Haynes and Boone Lawyer Steven Chen Earns European Inventor of the Year for Advancement of GPS Technology

May 10, 2010 // Franchising.com // MADRID, SPAIN – Haynes and Boone, LLP intellectual property lawyer Steven Chen, along with co-inventor Sanjai Kohli, has won the European Patent Office's Inventor of the Year Award for their powerful chipsets that enhance the availability, accuracy and effectiveness of GPS technology.

Winners were announced April 28 in Madrid after rigorous evaluation by an international panel of high-profile entrepreneurs, managers, scientists, researchers, investors and journalists. The Chen-Kohli invention was selected best in the "non-European countries" category, one of four categories in the contest.

"I am extremely honored to be receiving such a prestigious award and to be recognized for my contribution to the commercial GPS market," said Mr. Chen. "I believe innovation is the engine for our economic growth, and as both an intellectual property attorney and an inventor, I am very excited to be at the forefront."

Haynes and Boone's Intellectual Property Practice Chair Randall Brown agreed that innovative thinking and inventions like Mr. Chen's continue to drive the economy and the firm's growth in technology markets. "Steve is an excellent representative of the firm's intellectual property capabilities," Mr. Brown said. "Since establishing our California offices, Haynes and Boone has more than 70 full-time IP lawyers nationwide giving our clients access to multidisciplinary teams often staffed by lawyers with engineering or technical backgrounds. We are equipped to protect, enforce and defend our clients' innovations from coast to coast."

The judging panel credited the Chen-Kohli invention with the proliferation of GPS technology. "Devices with global positioning system (GPS) navigation have become part of everyday life," said an official statement from the organization. "Through their innovative GPS chipset design, American engineers Sanjai Kohli and Steven Chen are major contributors to the success – and mass popularity – of GPS technology today."

While employed as an engineer at San Jose-based SiRF, Mr. Chen and his business partner saw an opportunity to improve upon the early limitations of GPS by increasing the signal processing power of a GPS chip. The new approach would enable weak signals to be found within milliseconds.

The SiRF-designed systems also could use alternative sources when satellite signals were down, allowing them to remain operational with only one satellite in range. In contrast, early GPS systems established a geographic position through satellite feedback and relied on access to as many as four in-range satellites to function properly. If a single satellite's signal became blocked, the receivers failed to navigate.

The Chen-Kohli invention led to the exponential growth of the consumer GPS market. The increased speed and accuracy, combined with a cheaper price tag, paved the way for the use of handheld GPS navigators in urban environments. The invention also launched SiRF as the world's leading independent manufacturer of commercial GPS applications.

Today the global market for GPS devices is enormous: More than 300 million units were sold in 2009, and more than 400 million units are forecast for 2010. GPS-enabled mobile phones are the biggest growth market, moving more than 77 million units in 2009.

"The firm is thrilled that Steve has been internationally recognized for his hard work and innovation," said Greg Michelson, an intellectual property partner in Haynes and Boone's Orange County office. "It is a once-in-a-lifetime achievement and Haynes and Boone is proud to have a lawyer with such a bright mind on our team."

Mr. Chen came to Haynes and Boone when the firm entered the California legal market last year by adding the 27 attorneys and professionals at MacPherson, Kwok, Chen & Heid, LLP, a leading intellectual property law firm. Haynes and Boone is one of the few large Texas-based firms with offices in Silicon Valley and Orange County.

Haynes and Boone, LLP is an international corporate law firm with offices in Texas, New York, California, Washington, D.C., Mexico City and Moscow, providing a full spectrum of legal services. With almost 550 attorneys, Haynes and Boone is ranked among the largest law firms in the nation by The National Law Journal. The firm has been recognized as one of the "Best Corporate Law Firms in America" (Corporate Board Member Magazine, 2001-2009), as one of "The Best 20 Law Firms to Work For" (Vault.com, 2009), and as a Top 100 law firm for both diversity (MultiCultural Law Magazine, 2009) and women (Women 3.0, 2008).

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