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2014 Annual Meeting Report from AIPLA's President

Thanks to our membership for the vote of confidence you’ve placed in me to lead this outstanding organization over the next year. It is truly an honor and a privilege to be able to serve as your next president.  AIPLA, its members, and its policy initiatives have been   a very important part of my life over the past many years, and I will do my best to lead and represent you in this new role. 
I first joined AIPLA when I was clerking for Judge Lourie at the Federal Circuit. Judge Lourie, a former AIPLA Board member himself, deserves the credit for introducing me to this association, and I thank him for that in addition, of course, to providing me with the best job an aspiring young patent attorney could have asked for.  After clerking for Judge Lourie, I headed to Houston, Texas, to start my private practice career.  I grew up in St. Petersburg, FL, and I like to say that I moved to Houston for its heat and humidity.  In truth, Houston is a terrific place to live and to practice IP law, especially patent litigation, which is my primary focus. 

I became active in AIPLA starting in 1993, when I assumed responsibility as a regional chair for the Giles Sutherland Rich Moot Court Competition – a competition that remains near and dear to my heart.  I served in that role for four years and then became an AIPLA committee chair for the committee that was then responsible for the competition.  I have served as a committee chair, vice chair or board member ever since.  In thinking about the committees I have led, they have had two themes – membership initiatives and advocacy.  Those are areas that have been especially important to me and they will permeate my priorities over the next year.      
Let me start with membership.  Only individuals can be members of AIPLA, and I value the choice you made in choosing to join the association and for being here today.  Many of you pay directly out of your own pockets for dues and to attend our meetings.  You've made an investment in AIPLA and it's important for us to meet your needs and interests.  That said, one of my priorities will be on membership outreach and improving the value of membership for all our members.  Those of us here today represent just a part of our 15,000 members, and it’s important for AIPLA to support both our members who attend our stated meetings and those who do not.  Recognizing that our members are spread out geographically, I would like to expand on the fine work of committees like the Women in IP Law and New Lawyers Committees, which have instituted local networking programs and creative means of engagement, and see if we can work with other committees (and perhaps shamelessly copy) those committees' models in building further local outreach to other constituencies.  Our IP Law Associations Committee, among others, can help in these efforts.  Two very important constituencies for our continued and growing outreach are our Law Students and our New Lawyers – your interests, needs and involvement are important to this association. 
Another critical membership-related effort already underway involves improving our communications to you.  We have done much of the initial legwork, and we've heard what you’ve had to say about what’s important to you.  We will soon begin implementing new communications initiatives, and we hope to have a staff person dedicated fulltime to these efforts.
I also would like to expand on and enhance some of our roadshow and online programming initiatives, especially focusing on areas of the greatest interest to our members, such as AIA implementation and the growth of administrative trial proceedings before the PTAB, which brings me to another priority area for me.     
A critical area of my focus over the next year will involve our advocacy initiatives, both in helping shape IP policy domestically and internationally, and in educating our members and helping you navigate through the new challenges presented by our changing  laws.  This has been somewhat of a tumultuous time for us in IP law.  We’ve seen the Supreme Court review a record number of IP cases over the past year – and they aren’t done yet.  We now have a new venue for patent litigation before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, and PTAB proceedings are becoming the norm in patent litigation.  The PTO is currently evaluating PTAB rules changes and we hope to engage and be a trusted resource for the PTO in these efforts.  Of course, legislation in the patent arena did not end with the passage of the America Invents Act.  Rather, Congress has been focusing heavily on abusive patent litigation legislation, which is also a priority of the current Administration.  We expect these efforts to continue next term and Congress also may focus on Copyright reform.  On the international front, an important area for us is substantive harmonization, and we are taking an active role, including through our involvement with the IP5 and the Global Dossier.  With many changes and potential changes in the law, it’s critically important that AIPLA do its best to represent our members in advocating for a strong and balanced IP system that continues to promote innovation.  Also, we need to continue to focus on educating our members and providing you with the tools you need in this ever changing environment.  
AIPLA is about you – and I want to focus on what we can do to best serve our members while we also help to shape a strong and balanced IP system.  We have a talented and diverse 19-member board.  We also have hard-working committees – over 50 of them – that are the lifeblood of our association.  And we have a staff that’s top-notch; we couldn’t do what we do without them.  I’m very excited that we will soon be joined by our new Executive Director, Lisa Jorgenson, and I much look forward to working with Lisa in her new capacity. 
Thanks to those in AIPLA who have helped mentor me over the years, including our fine group of past presidents.  And special thanks to Wayne Sobon, my good friend; you have done a tremendous job and have left some very big shoes to fill.  Thank you again for the privilege of allowing me to serve AIPLA as its next president.  I look forward to embarking on what should be an exciting and rewarding year.