By Donald J. Quigg
Senior Partner, Novak Druce + Quigg, LLP
My story is one of hard work and inspiration from my father and grandfather. My grandfather immigrated to Philadelphia from Ireland, where he married my grandmother, who was Dutch. They settled in Kansas City, where my grandfather became master mechanic of the railroad terminal and my father eventually worked in the machine shop. He later opened his own shop in Oklahoma, where I began working after school and on weekends at the age of nine.
My father did not graduate from high school. On the day I left for Scout Camp to earn my Eagle badge, my father told me I could do anything that I put my mind to. It was my father’s dream that my brother and I attend college, which we both did. I decided to become a lawyer. I graduated from law school in 1940 and joined a Kansas City law firm. Two years later I was inducted into the U. S. Army where after thirteen months I became an officer in the Field Artillery and was assigned to the 27th Division, stationed in the Pacific Theatre.
After the war, I took a position at Phillips Petroleum, where I ultimately became General Patent Counsel. During my time there, the company was involved in a contest for a patent, a contest that continued for 22 years. I wanted to find out why the process took so long. When President Reagan was elected, I decided to make a run for the position of Commissioner of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and ultimately became Deputy Commissioner and later Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks. I thought my outside experience gave me the knowledge and tools to fix the process. I set out to streamline patent appellate procedures, register trademarks within 13 months by 1985, grant patents within 18 months by 1989, and achieve substantial automation of all aspects of the operation by 1989. These goals were achieved on schedule.
In 2003, I thought I was ready to retire—I had already worked for 60 years. But then I thought of my father and grandfather, and their work ethic. It isn’t in my personality to retire. So I joined Novak Druce + Quigg LLP. As long as I can try to make a difference, I want to keep doing it. And I am glad I am.