Discovery with Douglas W. Kim

Doug Kim on his heroic father, guitar chops and dead-horse objections

Published in 2017 South Carolina Super Lawyers — May 2017

If you were in my office, you’d … be surrounded by my clients’ inventions, prototypes, drawings, gadgets and product samples (as well as crayon drawings from my kids).

If I weren’t a lawyer, I’d be … a software engineer. Playing in a band and touring would be an aspirational career with one small hurdle: I like food and shelter.

I almost quit the law because … of an incident when I clerked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office during law school. A young man lived sporadically with his grandmother [and hid] a considerable amount of drugs under her porch. The grandmother was charged with possession with intent to distribute and conspiracy. She was convicted under the willful blindness theory and sentenced to five years. Needless to say, I now practice intellectual property law.

The SCOTUS justice I’d like to meet is … Roberts, for his experience at the D.C. Circuit, 2nd Circuit, working under Rehnquist, and particularly his work with TrafFix Devices Inc. v. Marketing Displays Inc. and United States v. Microsoft Corp

The SCOTUS decision I’d overturn is … Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International. The case creates too many artificial hurdles to patenting software and could have achieved its purpose in a much less destructive manner. 

My colleagues would be surprised to know that … I played viola in the Western Piedmont Symphony, and played guitar in a band that opened for The Veldt. (I’m on the right in the photo.)

A different practice area that intrigues me is … privacy law dealing with social media, cyber security and First Amendment issues. 

My favorite Twitter feed is … @TheOnion, because it is hilarious.

I can’t believe more people haven’t read … Unbreakable by Thom Shea.

My real life hero is … my father (below). He was born in Pyongyang, North Korea, during Japanese control and before the 38th parallel divided the country. As an 18-year-old, he and his brother planned to escape by crossing what is now the DMZ, finding a U.S. soldier and joining the military to gain U.S. citizenship. He lost his brother in the attempt. Upon reaching the military, he did not anticipate that they would take this intelligent, politically connected native, turn him into a spy and send him right back to North Korea. In the U.S., he graduated medical school and spent many years getting his brothers and sisters out of North Korea.

My most bizarre talent is … I can shoot a tennis ball can lid or beer bottle cap about
40 to 50 feet by snapping my fingers. 

The craziest thing I witnessed in a courtroom is … in a patent infringement case, the defendant’s attorney kept making the same points over and over. We objected, stating that it was irrelevant, and the objection kept being sustained. Over the next two days, it was reduced to “Objection, dead horse.” “Sustained.”

The three people I’d invite to dinner are … Albert Einstein, Eliot Ness and William Rehnquist (or Al Capone, if Ness couldn’t make it).

If I had a morning show, my co-host would be … Jack Nicholson. Can you imagine the questions he would ask and the comments he would make?

Nothing cheers me up like … hanging out with the family without disruptions—such as sitting on a dock on vacation, on a boat when scuba diving or any other quality time away from the ravages of the typical schedule.

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