* The Who, What, Where, When, Why, And How Of Clocktower

Clocktower One-Pager


Clocktower Law LLC (http://www.clocktowerlaw.com/) (Clocktower) is a 3-person Boston-area patent/trademark law firm founded by Erik Heels in 2001 whose attorneys have worked as non-lawyers for software and Internet startups, so they understand how intellectual property (IP) works in the real world. As such, Clocktower has helped many entrepreneurs have successful exits (getting acquired, going public). They do not, however, represent patent trolls, trademark bullies, or cybersquatters. So they are not the right firm for everyone. But they are a good choice for many.

Erik Heels (patent attorney, trademark lawyer) graduated from MIT (1988, BS Electrical Engineering, served in active duty in the USAF (1989-1992), wrote the first book published simultaneously on the Internet and in print (1992-1995), and worked for 6+ startups as a non-lawyer for 6+ years (1995-2001), including a 4-year stint with Verio (sold to NTT for $6 billion in 2000), before launching Clocktower (2001).

Mike Bartley (patent attorney, trademark lawyer) graduated from Harvard (2000, BA Computer Science) and developed a baseball simulation around which to base a fantasy baseball game (2000-2009) before joining Clocktower (2008).

Mary Keele (paralegal, office manager) graduated from Suffolk University (1984), completed paralegal training at Bentley College (1985), and worked for 20 years for law firms in and around Boston before joining Clocktower (2004).

In addition, Clocktower friends (http://www.clocktowerlaw.com/friends) provide non-IP services (e.g. incorporation, seed financing) and a network of foreign agents helps Clocktower’s clients protect their IP rights worldwide (top 6 markets: Europe, Japan, India, Canada, Australia, China).


Clocktower helps companies protect their ideas (with patents and trade secrets) and brands (with trademarks, domain names, and usernames) from the competition. Core services:

  • Filing/prosecuting U.S. patents.
  • Filing/prosecuting U.S. trademarks.
  • Filing/prosecuting foreign patents (top 6 markets: Europe, Japan, India, Canada, Australia, China).
  • Filing/prosecuting foreign trademarks (top 6 markets; Europe, Canada, Australia, China, Japan, India).
  • Buying/selling premium domain names (surreptitiously).

* The Who, What, Where, When, Why, And How Of Patents

* The Who, What, Where, When, Why, And How Of Trademarks

* Domain Name Law 101

Representative Patents.

* Network Monitoring, Detection, and Analysis System
Avraham Tzur Freedman, Ian Gerald Pye, Daniel P. Ellis (published 2017-07-20)

* Multi-User Cloud Parametric Feature-Based 3D CAD System
Jon K. Hirschtick et al. (published 2016-08-25)

* Method And System For Large Scale Data Curation
Nikolaus Bates-Haus et al. (published 2015-10-01)

* Numeric Input Control Through A Non-Linear Slider
Michael Lauer (published 2015-10-01)

* Switching Device Configured For Operation On A Conventional Railroad Track
Brendan English (published 2014-10-23)

* Optical Analyzer For Identification Of Materials Using Reflectance Spectroscopy
Ronald H. Micheels, Don J. Lee (published 2013-10-03)

* Yoga Mat With Intuitive Tactile Feedback For Visually Impaired
Tracy Lynn Curley (published 2011-05-19)

* Auto-Lock Compact Rope Descent Device
Peter M. Schwarzenbach, Samuel Morton (published 2010-09-23)

* Human-Computer Productivity Management System And Method
Mark Anthony Chroscielewski (published 2009-09-03)

* Online Entertainment Network For User-Contributed Content
Benjamin Clark Campbell (published 2008-04-17)

* System And Method For Optimizing Website Visitor Actions
Eric Hansen (published 2006-11-30)

* Method And System For Pricing Electronic Advertisements
Brian O’Kelley (published 2006-06-08)

* Pressure-Sensitive Light-Extracting Paper
Kevin Gerard Donahue (published 2006-05-18)

Representative Trademarks (and disputes).

* TRAVERSE [word]
2016-09-28 – Clocktower acquired the “Traverse” trademark for L.L. Bean.

* The Yarn Attic [word]
2016-09-06 – Clocktower helped this small business owner register “The Yarn Attic” and recover its social networking usernames (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) after a junior user (unjustly) had them temporarily taken down (http://www.clocktowerlaw.com/3129.html).

* Lawyers For Human Beings [word]
2015-09-01 – Clocktower’s tagline registered trademark.

* Console [word]
2015-07-28 – Clocktower helped AppNexus register it’s “Console” trademark after first registering “AppNexus Console,” an application of Clocktower’s “Microsoft Windows” legal theory (http://www.clocktowerlaw.com/3133.html).

* Jet [word]
2015-06-30 – Clocktower helped Jet.me register its “Jet” trademark, overcoming a likelihood-of-confusion rejection based on a 16-class trademark owned by a major airline.

* Drop Everything [word]
2011-11-08 – Registered trademark. Rocco Mediate (professional golfer on the PGA Tour) and family launched the “Drop Everything” store to sell golf-related products.

* K [mobile app icon logo]
2010-10-04 – Clocktower helped KAYAK register its iPhone icon as a trademark.

* Bzzing.com [domain name]
2009-04-22 – Clocktower won UDRP case for BzzAgent over “Bzzing.com” domain name, using registrant’s copying of BzzAgent’s website as evidence of bad faith (case later cited by UDRPcommentaries.com).

* Real Women Don’t Date [word]
2008-09-02 – Clocktower helped register this t-shirt trademark using website store as a “sales display” for the specimen.

* [FAVICON logo]
2008-01-15 – Clocktower helped Right Media (acquired by Yahoo!) register the first favicon (favicon.ico) trademark (http://www.clocktowerlaw.com/3059.html).

* The Law Firm Where Everybody Knows Your Name [word]
2007-10-16 – Clocktower’s tagline registered trademark.

* BZZ [word]
2006-09-26 – Clocktower helped secure a registered trademark for the 3-letter “BZZ” trademark using the “family of marks” legal theory (BzzAgent, BzzCampaign, BzzNetwork, BzzBlast, BzzRewards).


Clocktower’s office is located in Villageworks in West Acton (Greater Boston) on Mass. Ave. (AKA route 111) (http://www.clocktowerlaw.com/about/directions), the same road as both MIT and Harvard:

  • 22.5 miles from MIT
  • 20.9 miles from Harvard

Because patent law and trademark law are federal, Clocktower’s clients are located all over the United States – and the world. As such, they have many clients they’ve never met in person. They have “met” with people, however, via teleconference, on Skype, and even in Second Life (http://www.clocktowerlaw.com/about/about-clocktower-law-cont). Top markets:

  • Boston
  • New York City
  • San Francisco
  • London


You should hire Clocktower at the same time you are founding your startup but before you launch any product:

PATENT PLANNING – FILE BEFORE LAUNCHING. U.S. patent law changed significantly from 2011 to 2013 due to the America Invents Act (AIA) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leahy-Smith_America_Invents_Act). The AIA was fully implemented on 2013-03-16, which made the U.S. a first-inventor-to-file country (and replaced the former first-to-invent system). The U.S. is also essentially an “absolute novelty” country. As such, you should file your patent application before you launch (where “launch” is defined as sale, offer for sale, publication, or public use) your product/service/improvement. This is the only certain way to protect both U.S. and foreign patent rights.

TRADEMARK PLANNING – FILE BEFORE LAUNCHING. It is much more expensive (by about an order of magnitude) to cure trademark problems than it is to prevent them. As such, you should fully vet any new trademark (for a company name, logo, tagline, product name, service name) by searching the trademark and (if the search is favorable to you) filing a trademark application. Clocktower has guided many clients through rebranding, which costs on average $50,000. In an ideal world, you would be the first to use, first to file, and first to register your trademark. Disputes with third parties can occur when one party is first at one thing and the other party is first at another. Registering your trademarks as soon as possible can also help you secure your brand on the Internet (including domain names and social networking usernames).


Software expertise. Erik and Mike have studied and practiced a wide variety of subject areas and technologies. Clocktower serves clients in many industries, including, but not limited to, advertising, branding, marketing; artists, music; computer hardware; computer software, software as a service (SaaS); consumer products; gaming; industrial products, medical products; Internet services, websites; multimedia, audio, video; nonprofits; professional services; search engines, travel search; and social media, social networking, social shopping.

But not biology or pharma. No bugs, no drugs.

Startup-friendly pricing. While Clocktower does have an (old fashioned) hourly rate, they charge fixed amounts (flat rates) for many things that they do (http://www.clocktowerlaw.com/fees). Third-party fees vary (sometimes wildly), but they use rigorous math (based on many years of data) to help startups budget accordingly. They simplify their fee structure at least annually. Clocktower probably charges more on a per-patent and per-trademark basis then most firms but less overall since they only file IP that matters.

Deals/lawyer/year. Clocktower’s deals/lawyer/year ratio is the best of any patent law firm in the country. Clocktower’s clients have had 20 exits (19 acquisitions plus one IPO) since 2001. Clocktower guides its clients into filing patents and trademarks only when it makes sense for the client’s business, which helps clients spend less on IP and more on product, which helps them have successful exits.

* Cool Clients

Representative clients. Clocktower’s current clients include (alphabetically):

1. Disruptor Beam (disruptorbeam.com)
2. Onshape (onshape.com)
3. Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (pmc.org)
4. RailPod (rail-pod.com)
5. Tamr (tamr.com)

Notable client exits include (chronologically):

6. Right Media (rightmedia.com, acquired by Yahoo! for $850 million in 2007)
7. BzzAgent (bzzagent.com, acquired by Tesco’s Dunnhumby for $60 million in 2011)
8. KAYAK (kayak.com, acquired by Priceline for $2.1 billion in 2013)
9. Smarterer (smarterer.com, acquired by Pluralsight for $75 million in 2014)
10. Unidesk (unidesk.com, acquired by Citrix for $60.4 million in 2017)

Client testimonials.

Jon Radoff
“Erik combines the things that I care about in legal services: deep and *current* domain expertise; pragmatic, practical advice; excellent follow-through. Highly recommended.” – Jon Radoff, Disruptor Beam Inc.
John McEleney
“I have worked with Erik and the Clocktower team while I was at CloudSwitch and have been working with him at Onshape. They do great work – fast, efficient and affordable.” – John McEleney, Onshape Inc.
Dave Hellman
“Erik’s work at Clock Tower on behalf of Pan-Mass Challenge exceeded our expectations. He produced results faster than expected and included areas that we hadn’t considered which expanded the protection of our brand.”
– Dave Hellman, Pan-Massachusetts Challenge Inc.
Brendan English
“Erik and his team provides for a very simple, straightforward path to a robust, affordable IP portfolio for any startup.”
– Brendan English, RailPod Inc.
Andy Palmer
“Erik is – literally and figuratively – a rock star. Ask about his band! I highly recommend his firm for patents and trademarks.”
– Andy Palmer, Tamr Inc.
Brian O'Kelley
“Erik did a great job helping me file a couple of critical patents early in Right Media’s lifecycle. I hadn’t been through the patent process before, but I knew that getting patents that clearly represented the technologies and their business implications was critical. I tried working with a larger firm, but quickly became frustrated. I connected with Clock Tower, and while initially hesitant since we were in New York and Erik was in Boston, agreed to give it a try. Clock Tower was fantastic. The communication process was straightforward; Erik and his team picked up on the business and technical concepts quickly; the work product was excellent. I have nothing but good things to say. We continue to work with Erik on trademark and other IP projects, and actively refer people to Clock Tower Law Group. They’re a great choice.”
– Brian O’Kelley, AppNexus
Steve Cagnetta
“I have had the pleasure of working with Erik for a number of years in connection with mutually held clients. I have worked with him and his firm on both patent and trademark matters. I have found everyone at Clock Tower to be smart, flexible and responsive and the services are very cost-effective for startups. My clients have continually raved about him and his firm.”
– Steve Cagnetta, BzzAgent counsel
Paul English
“Clock Tower Law Group gets it. They get how patents and trademarks work in the real world. And they really get the Internet. I’ve used Erik for patents, copyrights, and domain name purchase negotiations. I highly recommend his services and will use him again.”
– Paul English, KAYAK


Call or meet with Clocktower (free initial consultation). Then fill out a simple form to hire them:

* Proposal

Clocktower Law LLC
537 Massachusetts Ave., Suite 301
Acton, MA 01720
phone: 978-263-0400
fax: 978-246-0256