The guy says, “I hear you want to be a
trademark attorney.” I’d never even heard
about trademark law, and before I could
stop myself, I said, “Ever since I was a
toddler.” Then I realized I said that out loud.
Fortunately he thought it was funny, and I
wound up getting hired.
It was a pretty exciting time for a girl from
Q: What was it like to be a woman in your
field at that time?
A: I was probably in the wave where it was
starting to even out a little bit. Maybe 60-40
men to women.
Yet intellectual property in particular
tends to be heavily dominated, especially in
this part of the country, by patent lawyers
and most of them are engineers.
I remember my first few times that I went
to the Oklahoma Bar Association intellectual
property section meetings. We had 120
people in a section. There would almost
never be more than 10 women in the room,
tops. Most of the time when you were there,
some guy’s wife would walk up to you and
say, “Now who are you married to?”
Q: One of your most widely covered cases
was the Old Glory condom case, where you
were arguing against the American flag
being used as an image on a condom. How
did that case come about?
A: That case is still in the textbooks. I argued
that case back in ‘92.
You see, when you’re a trademark
examiner, basically you pull files in groups
off of the shelves, and your job is to
examine those and decide whether or not
you’re going to grant a trademark. That
[one] was in my group of files.
People were outraged by it. It doesn’t
matter what you or I think about it.
That’s immaterial. I may have a more
sophisticated view of it. Or because I’m
from Oklahoma, I might have a more
conservative view. Would a lot of people be
offended by it? That was supposed to be
the standard of proof, but the difficulty with
a case like that, as an examining attorney,
is you don’t have any way to gather
that evidence. It’s almost an impossible
standard to ask an examiner to enforce.
What I had to do in that case was look
at how different incidents involving flag
burning or flag desecration had been treated
and levels of outrage that they generate.
Because that flag burning case [Texas v.
Johnson] had been fairly recent, that was a
useful one. You have to argue by analogy.
There’s nothing else you can do, really.
It was my first oral argument. Nobody
ever goes to those. You go in before the
three judges and you make your argument,
and that’s the end of it. [But on this day] the
hearing room was packed and the only seat
left was mine.
I was really nervous because my opponent
was the guy who had argued the flag
burning case in front of the Supreme Court,
David Cole, and he’s a very famous lawyer.
I was just in shock. I think I did fine. There
were several reporters in the room, and a
couple of them came up to me afterward.
One was from The Gay Blade and the other
one was from The Washington Post. I just
sort of laughed because typically they
wouldn’t let their examiners make public
comments or anything, but I had already
been interviewed about the case a couple
of times and I had gotten some special
permission to talk to the press.
I’m talking to the reporter and I said,
“This isn’t really going to be in the paper,
The next day I went to buy the paper, and
I flipped it over on the counter and I was on
the front page. I was below the fold, but I
was on the front page. I called my mother
from my office and I said, “I am on the front
page of The Washington Post,” and she goes,
“Are you sleeping with the senator?”
It was right about the time that Clinton
got elected. There was an interesting
dynamic going on at the trademark office
because the commissioner who sits as an
ex officio member of the judicial body that
decides these cases is a political appointee.
[Ultimately,] they made me re-brief it a
second time and then the decision came
out after Clinton was elected, and the board
made a very convoluted ruling that has been
Q: When did you return to Tulsa?
A: 1995. I was 32. I loved being an examiner,
but after a while, the job is not that
challenging. I felt like I’d learned pretty
much all I was going to learn there. I started
looking around to go into private practice. …
This was the time of the fabled 80-hour work
week. In Tulsa there is no such thing.
Q: Was there plenty of work in the field of
intellectual property in Tulsa?
A: Actually, yes. I had a case that took 10
He sold cars. He sold computer equipment at one point. He
years, for Phoenix Software. The initial case
was at the U.S. Trademark Office. My client
had a trademark for the word “condor.” Then,
a few years later, the University of Wisconsin
applied for the Condor trademark for
computer software, and they were granted it.
What the University of Wisconsin
trademarked was data management
My dad was a salesman for many years. He sold real estate.
even sold hearing aids. He was one of those guys. He was
always a good salesman. That summer I went to Washington,
he started to work for Southwest Airlines. My father is a real
handsome guy. He looks like Clint Eastwood.”