Haynes and Boone Patent Lawyer Wins European Inventor of the Year Award


ORANGE COUNTY – Haynes and Boone, LLP intellectual property lawyer Steven Chen has won the European Patent Office’s Inventor of the Year Award for his work on powerful chipsets designed to enhance the availability, accuracy and effectiveness of GPS technology.

Mr. Chen and his co-inventor Sanjai Kohli were among 12 total nominees and only three in the Non-European Countries category.

“This is an outstanding honor for Steve,” said Greg Michelson, an intellectual property partner in Haynes and Boone’s Orange County office. “He is an extremely bright individual and his innate understanding of the intricacies of the technology we are asked to represent as patent lawyers is a huge asset to our clients.”

While employed as an engineer at San Jose-based SiRF, Mr. Chen and his business partner Sanjai Kohli, 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.

Mr. Chen and Mr. Kohli’s invention sparked the proliferation of GPS technology into everyday life. 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: Over 300 million units were sold in 2009, and over 400 million units are forecast for 2010. GPS-enabled mobile phones are the biggest growth market, moving over 77 million units in 2009.

Nominees for the Inventor of the Year Awards are evaluated by a high-profile international jury comprised of entrepreneurs, managers, scientists, researchers, investors and journalists. Winners will be announced at an April 28 ceremony in Madrid, Spain.

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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