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J. Nevin Shaffer, Jr. EARNS BOARD CERTIFICATION IN FIRST-IN-THE-NATION INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW SPECIALTY

TALLAHASSEE – J. Nevin Shaffer, Jr., Gulf Breeze intellectual property lawyer, is one of 80 Florida lawyers whom The Florida Bar recently certified as specialists in the newly established intellectual property law specialty, the first of its kind in the U.S. 

Certified attorneys are the only Florida lawyers allowed to identify or advertise themselves as specialists or experts. Certification is the highest level of evaluation by The Florida Bar of the competency and experience of attorneys in areas of law approved for certification by the Supreme Court of Florida. Board certification evaluates attorneys’ special knowledge, skills and proficiency in various areas of law and professionalism and ethics in practice.

Florida currently offers 22 specialty areas of practice for which board certification is available – the greatest number of state-approved certification areas in the nation.

"Board certification is a valuable credential that is becoming a significant trend in the legal profession," said Florida Bar President Frank Angones Jr. "Specialization recognizes lawyers’ expertise and professionalism, and is a natural progression for lawyers who can demonstrate high skill levels in particular areas of law."

Intellectual property lawyers practice primarily in the areas of patent application prosecution, patent infringement litigation, trademark law, copyright law and trade secret law.

Attorney James A. Gale of Feldman Gale P.A. in Miami chairs The Florida Bar's intellectual property certification committee.

"There are a host of new problems out there for companies and individuals trying to protect customer lists, proprietary data, Web site content, trademarks and slogans because of the complexity of this area of law," said Gale. "As the practice area has grown, so has the public’s need to identify legal experts in the field."

Background. The Florida Supreme Court in July 2006 amended Florida Bar rules to add intellectual property law to the existing certification program. The opinion states that standards "identify those lawyers who practice intellectual property law and have the special knowledge, skills, and proficiency, as well as the character, ethics, and reputation for professionalism, to be properly identified to the public as certified intellectual property lawyers."

Applications were due Feb. 28, 2007; the exam was Oct. 1. One hundred seven lawyers submitted applications for the newly established area.

Minimum requirements for intellectual property law board certification include:
- At least five years of law practice immediately preceding application. Practicing patent application prosecution before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office qualifies if the lawyer is a registered patent attorney or registered patent agent.
- At least 30 percent of practice in matters related to intellectual property law during the three years immediately preceding application.
- Experience requirements during the five years immediately preceding application for at least one of the following categories: patent application prosecution, patent infringement litigation, trademark law and copyright law.
- Satisfactory peer review assessment of competence in the intellectual property law field as well as character, ethics and professionalism in the practice of law.
- At least 45 hours of continuing legal education within the three years preceding application; and
- Passage of a written examination demonstrating knowledge, skills and proficiency in the field.

Board certification is valid for five years, during which time the attorney must continue to practice law and attend Florida Bar-approved continuing legal education courses. To be recertified, requirements similar to those for initial certification must be met. Not all qualified lawyers are certified, but those who are board certified have taken the extra step to have their competence and experience recognized.

Nevin has been a licensed patent attorney since 1980 and may be contacted in his office at 913 Gulf Breeze Parkway, Suite 43, Gulf Breeze, Fl. or by his website at nevinshaffer.com where you can read the first chapter of his book Protect Your Great Ideas for Free!

Intellectual property board certification standards are available on The Florida Bar Web site at www.FloridaBar.org/certification. More information on the 22 legal specialty areas also is available by contacting The Florida Bar’s Legal Specialization & Education Department at 850/561-5842.