Norm’s practice dates back to the early 1960’s when the Patent Office was housed in the main Commerce Building when he was a “Washington attorney” for major Midwest and West Coast organizations to help them with their patent searching and procurement needs. The signature feature of the huge Commerce Department Building near the White House was its massive two story high patent Search Room, home to many “Washington attorneys” who performed not only patent searches in this pre-internet era but also sought extensions of time to respond to Office Actions (as extensions were merit-based and not automatically granted) and interviewed cases with Examiners — all within the physical confines of the Commerce Department Building .
Stepno, Schwaab & Linn, Working with Top Lawyers in the Field:  Norm in his early years attracted some of the best and brightest of the profession, e.g., his creation of the Stepno, Schwaab & Linn boutique with Dick Schwaab (later founder of the Washington Office of Foley & Lardner and thence a national leader of that firm) and Dick Linn (who continues today as Circuit Judge Richard Linn of the Federal Circuit.)
1967, Beginning of the End of the “Washington Lawyer” Patent Era:  The classic “Washington attorney” in patent law is from a bygone era.  By 1967, change was underway as the Patent Office moved across the Potomac River to Arlington; that same year commercial jets were permitted to land at Washington National Airport, thus cutting a trip from, e.g., Chicago from 2 ½ hours to one hour, permitting even same day round trips for Examiner interviews. This ended much of the need for a Washington attorney to interview cases.  Subsequent computer patent searching  was the coup de grace for any need to do patent searches at the PTO. Also, the PTO leadership encouraged examiner telephone interviews, which mitigated much of the need for face to face interviews.  While there still is a substantial presence of Washington, D.C., based patent attorneys, their focus is now on national and international procurement and litigation practice:

Norm’s International Vision:  Norm in his early years was heavily involved in matters for French chemical organizations. He also represented the assignee of Czech chemist Otto Wichterle, inventor of the soft contact lens.

With sadness,
Hal