Navigate Up
Sign In

AIPLA President's Page, 2010 Annual Meeting Bulletin

     As AIPLA begins its new Association year, I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to serve as your President.  During my remarks at the AIPLA Annual Meeting in October, I noted some of the many ways that AIPLA has changed since I first joined this great organization in 1978 (then known as APLA).  At that time, we had about 3,900 members, with about 19 committees and a staff of about 6 people.  Today, we have a membership of over 16,000, more than 40 committees, and a staff of over 20 people.  We are recognized around the world as one of the most important and influential organizations in the intellectual property community.  Our education programs are unmatched by any other provider.  We can all be proud of where our organization has been and where it is today. 

     As identified by your Board of Directors at its September Strategic Planning Retreat, our challenge now is to continue to provide the kind of  crucial leadership and unbiased analysis that can lead the way for world-class policy and decision-making, while attracting membership, ideas, and resources as a highly sought after and respected thought leader.  We also need to devote significant attention and resources to educate the public about the value of intellectual property and increase the public’s understanding and appreciation of how intellectual property improves the way we work and live.  In addition, we want to continue to deliver outstanding services and programs to our members, and to attract IP professionals from around the world. 

     We further intend to carry on the great initiatives of our immediate past-president, Alan Kasper, which have expanded our influence in the global community. We will strive to provide leadership and guidance for the development of sound global intellectual property standards, laws and policies.  Alan did a remarkable job as our President during the past year, and we all owe him, as well as his predecessor, Terry Rea, our sincere thanks for their dedication and continuing commitment to the Association.  We also owe many thanks to our Executive Director, Q. Todd Dickinson, and his entire staff for their hard work and great efforts on behalf of the Association.  

2010 Annual Meeting

     The Annual Meeting in Washington was very successful, thanks to our Officer-in Charge , Jeff Lewis, the Professional Programs Committee, lead by Mike Martinez and Steve Malin, all of our committees and their leaders, and our outstanding AIPLA staff.  The educational sessions were overflowing, and the various networking receptions were extremely popular.   One notable highlight was the entertaining and educational luncheon Q. & A session between Executive Director, Q. Todd Dickinson, and the Undersecretary of Commerce and Director of the United States Patent & Trademark Office, David Kappos.  We also held our first AIPLA LGBT reception, which attracted a very large and enthusiastic crowd.  A similar event is being planned for the Spring meeting in San Francisco in May by our Diversity Committee. 

     Throughout the meeting we honored individuals who have done outstanding work for the Association and the IP system in general.  Congratulations to the following award recipients:

The Honorable Paul R. Michel, recipient of the 2010 AIPLA Excellence Award, which recognizes his extraordinary leadership and service to the US Government, and particularly his leadership on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit as Chief Judge, demonstrating a distinguished career marked by intellect, integrity, and an unwavering commitment to the administration of justice.

Sharon A. Israel, Partner, Mayer Brown LLP, as the recipient of the AIPLA President’s Outstanding Service Award, presented in recognition of and gratitude for her years of service to AIPLA, as a member, committee leader, member of the Board of Directors, and particularly for her creation and leadership of the Special Committee on Legislation.

Mark A. Guetlich, in-house counsel and Managing Director of the European IP team at SAP, as a recipient of an AIPLA Project Award, which recognizes his outstanding service to the association, and particularly his hard work and commitment to the first Global IP Practitioner Association Summit.

Evelyn H. McConathy, Partner, Montgomery, McCracken, Walker & Rhoads, LLP as a recipient of an AIPLA Project Award, which recognizes her outstanding service to the association, and particularly her hard work and commitment to the 2010 World Intellectual Property Day.

Georgann Grunebach, in-house counsel, Fox Group Legal, as recipient ot the Mentor of the Year Award which recognizes her her outstanding service to the association as an AIPLA mentor.

IP Policy and Advocacy

     The November Congressional election changed the face of Congress in significant ways, and we certainly expect that the long debated and delayed issue of Patent Reform will be on the table again.  On the House of Representatives side, Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas will now lead the House Judiciary Committee, and he has reestablished a subcommittee on intellectual property, which will be lead by Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia.  Preliminary indications suggest that we can expect to see a hearing on patent reform early in the new Congress.  Senator Patrick Leahy will be continuing to lead the Senate Judiciary Committee, and his efforts to see passage of a suitable patent reform bill are expected to continue. 

     The other major effort on the Hill will involve helping the USPTO  secure adequate funding for its operations and its planned improvements.  Your Association was very active through the lame duck session in attempts to secure additional resources for the USPTO, but the final resolution  did not include the provisions  USPTO was seeking, which would have provided and allowed the USPTO to spend unanticipated fee income.  We expect to continue our efforts in support of providing the USPTO with adequate funds to pursue its ambitious agenda of improvements.  With respect to our support of Patent Reform legislation, AIPLA will continue to participate as a member of the 21st Century Patent Coalition.  Our Special Committee on Legislation headed by Sharon Israel and Pat Coyne will certainly be called upon for help in all of our legislative efforts in the coming year.

     Your association continues its energetic amicus program (with 10 briefs filed in 2010 and 12 briefs filed in 2009),  and all indications are that this number even may be eclipsed in the current year.  Briefs have recently been filed, for example, in Assoc. for Molecular Pathology v. USPTO and Myriad Genetics, Inc. (patentable subject matter of claimed isolated genes and diagnostic methods), General Protecht Group, Inc. v. ITC (deference to the fact finder regarding facts underlying claim construction), Viacom Int’l v. YouTube, Inc. (DMCA safe harbor applicability), Global-Tech Applicances, Inc. v SEB S.A. (legal standard for active inducement of infringement), and Stanford v. Roche (federal contractor’s rights under the Bayh-Dole Act).  At the time of this writing, a brief is in the final stages of completion in the important case of i4i v. Microsoft (burden of proof for establishing patent invalidity), and several other cases are being monitored for possible Amicus involvement. 

     Our Amicus Committee has done a remarkable job of identifying appropriate cases, analyzing them for the Board, and locating excellent drafters who have devoted their pro bono time to preparing these superb briefs on behalf of AIPLA.  Special thanks are due to the outgoing chair of the Amicus Committee, Patrick Coyne, for his extraordinary work in the past two years on behalf of the Association’s Amicus efforts, to Jim Crowne of our staff for his continuing efforts in that regard, and to new Chair Ed Reines and the entire Amicus Committee for their great work.  AIPLA takes great care in all its Amicus briefs to present fair and balanced arguments that are intended to represent members’ interests, and aid the courts and the public in the development of the law.  Our positions have been adopted by the courts in a large percentage of the cases where the association has participated.

      On the international side, AIPLA has had a very active agenda in the past few months.  In November, we hosted a delegation from the European Patent Office for the annual EPO Partnership on Quality meeting at our offices.  The exchanges of information at this meeting were extremely valuable to all attendees, and we expect to continue this important meeting in future years.  We also hosted very productive meetings both in New York and Virginia with the new EPO President, Benoit Battistelli, during his visit to the United States. AIPLA is a member of the Industry Trilateral group along with Intellectual Property Owners (IPO), the Japan Intellectual Property Association (JIPA), and BusinessEurope.  We participated in  a full-day meeting of this group on November 17, during which a number of important projects were discussed in preparation for the Trilateral Patent Office meeting, which took place on November 18.  At that meeting, the views of the Industry Trilateral were shared with the heads of the Trilateral Patent Offices, and updates were provided to the group on the status of the various initiatives being pursued in the Trilateral work program. 

     Our association also hosted meetings with two delegations from China during November.  Representatives from the intellectual property administrations of both Zhejiang and Hebei Provinces visited headquarters to discuss cooperation with AIPLA, including how AIPLA could assist them in educating their companies and citizens about intellectual property protection.  Participants in these meetings included members of our new Special Committee on IP Practice in China.  The committee was established this year in response to the increased importance of China to our members, and the strong interest of the membership in keeping abreast of intellectual property developments in China.  The committee is lead by co-chairs William (Skip) Fisher and Ying Tuo, and we invite all interested members to join this committee.  Our IP Practice in the Far East Committee also assisted us with a meeting in early December with the Deputy Chief of Mission of the South Korean Embassy in Washington.  This meeting focused on the South Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement that had recently been announced by President Obama.

     Your President also participated as an invited guest in the working sessions of the Inter-American Association of Intellectual Property (ASIPI) in Santiago, Chile in late November.  During this meeting, discussions were held on ways in which AIPLA and ASIPI could cooperate more closely in the future, and efforts will be continuing to explore initiatives that could benefit both organizations.

     Last year, under the leadership of then-President Alan Kasper, AIPLA took the lead in helping to organize a new Network of International IP Practitioner Associations.  This effort resulted in two meetings of the network during 2010, and the establishment of a Steering Committee to carry on the work of these first two meetings.  This network is intended to facilitate communication among the various organizations, to assist with educational exchanges among the groups, and to help develop “best practices” in areas of mutual interest.  Plans are now underway for a third meeting of this network during 2011.   


Other Association News

     AIPLA was approached by the US Group of AIPPI during the past year about the possibility of providing administrative support for them.  As a result of  these discussions, a Memorandum of Understanding was concluded, and AIPLA took over the administrative support functions as of January 1, 2011.  It is hoped that this arrangement will provide benefits to both organizations, and additional cooperation may be explored in the future.  A similar arrangement recently has been concluded between AIPLA and the American Intellectual Property Law Education Foundation (AIPLEF), under which AIPLA will be handling administrative support for this organization.   

      I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the extraordinary work of the various committees that have been involved during the past year in helping to prepare comments and submissions to the USPTO and other government agencies.  This was an especially demanding year in that regard, as a result of the numerous initiatives that have been undertaken by the USPTO under the dynamic and progressive leadership of our Under Secretary of Commerce and Director of the USPTO, David Kappos.  Special thanks are due to Charlie Van Horn, who carried a yeoman’s role for the Patent-Relations with the USPTO Committee, as he has done for many years.  Many other committees also deserve our sincere thanks for their hard work on these matters.



     I want to take this opportunity to ask for your help, as members of our association.  During the last two years, our association membership has been negatively impacted by the economic situation.  We need the help of all our members to reverse this trend, and I am asking you to reach out to your colleagues and friends in your company or law firm, your foreign associates, and your clients, to tell them about AIPLA.  Membership in AIPLA is a bargain, “The Best Value in IP,” and the benefits of AIPLA membership far exceed the cost.  Membership categories have been expanded in recent years, so membership is now available not just to attorneys-at-law, but also to US and foreign patent and trademark agents, patent office professionals including examiners, and law students.  Please encourage your colleagues and friends to join, and to attend our great meetings and educational programs.

Get Involved!

     Finally, I want to invite and encourage more of you to get involved in AIPLA in some meaningful way.  Join a committee in an area where you have an interest.  Volunteer to help the committee with its program planning or other activities.  Think of new ideas for how the committee can better carry out its mission.  The opportunities for speaking, writing, or other involvement within AIPLA are numerous.  It is up to you to make it happen.  I can guarantee that you will enjoy the ride!   


David W. Hill, AIPLA President