2022 Annual Meeting November 2022

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From October 27 - 29, 2022, over 1,400 intellectual property practitioners from around the world, more than 65 speakers, and over 20 exhibitors joined AIPLA at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, MD for the 2022 Annual Meeting. After two years, it was a pleasure being fully back in person, not only to receive the usual high-quality CLE and networking opportunities, but to also celebrate AIPLA's 125th Anniversary! 

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Introduction & President's Message - Brian H. Batzli - Fall 2022

Brian H. Batzli

It is a great honor and privilege to serve as the President of the American Intellectual Property Association.  Thank you for the opportunity and the trust that everyone has shown in me.  I am proud of AIPLA for providing excellent continuing legal education, advocacy, networking, and leadership opportunities.  This didn’t happen overnight.  Instead, it has taken a group of dedicated members and headquarters staff decades to achieve this level of activity and service to its members – and while retaining its culture that so many of us appreciate. 

When I say decades, I note that we just marked our 125th Anniversary.  That number is just incredible to me.  The 125th Anniversary programming at our Annual Meeting was awesome.  A big shout out to everyone who had a hand in planning this year’s Annual Meeting.  Let’s look forward to the next 125!

I also would like to thank Patrick Coyne for his service.  As the AIPLA President last year he worked and traveled tirelessly.  He is an excellent leader of the organization and role model for me.  I thoroughly enjoy having the opportunity to be his colleague and friend in this great organization, and it has been a privilege and pleasure to work, travel, and learn from him.  

Second, as I reflect on becoming President -- as one of the previous President’s said in their remarks – and I quote – “So, I’m becoming AIPLA President. WOW!”.  It is humbling to stand on the shoulders of the Past Presidents table that came before me.  There are too many to thank for their service, so I offer a blanket and heartfelt thank you for their advice, mentoring and friendship. 

Backtracking a bit, not 125 years ago, but about 32 years ago I started becoming involved in AIPLA.  One of the partners at Merchant & Gould, John P. Sumner, was in the leadership of the Electronic and Computer Law Committee and convinced me that I should get involved.  After attending several meetings, I was asked to be a Licensing sub-committee co-chair by Rick Nydegger.  For those of you that may be newer to the organization, Rick would eventually become President of AIPLA.  So, it goes without saying that I was both thrilled and nervous to be his co-chair.  But Rick was awesome with his guidance and mentoring.  It made me want to keep coming back and convinced me that AIPLA was the organization of which I wanted to be a part.     

Those initial volunteer efforts led me to a Study Group Co-Chair position and Committee Chair positions, led me to the position of Treasurer and the Board of Directors, and now as President.  It’s a similar path that virtually every President before me has traveled -- and it is the path that the ones to come will likely follow.  But for me that path has been filled with invaluable experiences, education, speaking occasions, leadership opportunities, and importantly dear life-long friends.

In honor of our 125th Anniversary, we have been spotlighting members asking, “What does AIPLA mean to you?” The experiences relayed by the members create a wonderful word cloud of the most common responses.  You find words and phrases like:

  • Life-long colleagues
  • Great CLE
  • Great place to learn
  • Inclusivity
  • Leadership opportunities
  • Collaboration
  • A chance to shape IP policy
  • Opportunity to make an impact
  • Favorite IP organization

It makes me so very proud of AIPLA, the culture and each of you, our members, for developing and maintaining that culture.  But as we all know too well, there were challenges to AIPLA’s meetings, services, advocacy, and networking during COVID. We were isolated, and attending meetings, summits, watercoolers, bootcamps and more via Zoom and Teams.  But we managed to get through the pandemic, and I am pleased to be able to say today that -- the organization is on solid footing. 

On that note, I want to thank everyone at AIPLA headquarters for their hard work and fantastic job in helping the organization achieve these results.  In addition, the AIPLA Presidents that lead us through the pandemic deserve much credit:  Barbara Fiacco, Joe Re, and Patrick Coyne.  Finally, Sal Anastasi did a fantastic job as AIPLA’s Treasurer.  Kudos to all of them and a job well done! I would also like to thank my wife and everyone at my firm, Merchant & Gould, PC, for their support.

Looking forward, we are once again moving forward with in-person meetings (in addition to our online offerings) – providing an opportunity to engage with our colleagues, develop new friendships, provide leadership opportunities, and top-notch Continuing Legal Education that the organization is known for.

There is also a lot swirling around intellectual property today.  Gone is the day where it was a sleepy little backwater of the law where no patent was found valid for decades in the 8th Circuit.  Instead, we have a full docket on tap this year.  We plan to:

  1. Continue our push to increase the ability to search for and retrieve the organization’s vast array of papers and other materials – as well as encourage our constellation of Committees to provide practice-oriented forms and materials.
  2. Continue our efforts to encourage and promote diversity in the profession.
  3. Make our Special Committee on Pro Bono a full-fledged, regular committee of AIPLA.  And effective as of the Annual Meeting, this has been done. 
  4. We have great meetings coming up at the Rancho Bernardo Inn for the Midwinter Institute and Seattle for the Spring Meeting.
  5. We likely have miles to go with PTAB, Antitrust and Section 101 – but we are just the organization to show leadership and advocacy in those areas. 
  6. And continue doing all the great work by our committees.

And that’s where all of you, as our members, come in.  Our members, Board of Directors, committee leadership, and headquarters staff are all fabulous. I am honored to work with such a smart, dedicated, and first-rate group.  We have awesome New Lawyers and Mentoring Committees, but I am asking everyone for a favor.  We have a lot of new members coming into the organization.  Let us all make them feel welcome.  Introduce yourself, introduce your colleagues, invite them to attend a committee meeting, spend time at a Water Cooler session with them, and invite them to sit with you at lunch or grab coffee at one of our Stated Meetings, Summits, or Road Shows.  Because many of us know each other, it can be intimidating to walk up to a group.  So please help them out.

And if you are comfortable doing so, be a part of AIPLA’s formal mentoring program.  Supporting new IP attorneys in our profession at the 1:1 level (or as part of a mentoring cluster) leaves a legacy for each of us in the profession – and at the same time creates the bonds and feelings that I received from folks like Rick Nydegger. 

Thinking back to the word cloud, AIPLA provides so much more than great CLE, networking, and opportunities.  Your participation in AIPLA means that your opinions and thoughts are heard and that you have a voice in your profession.

I also have a second ask: if you aren’t already, please get involved in a committee.  If you aren’t involved in the committees, then your voice, your firm’s voice, industry’s voice, and your client’s voice will not be heard.  Change is going to happen in this profession, and it may not always move in a direction you agree with, but your voice makes a difference.  So please, be part of the conversation. Your perspective, engagement, and energy matters.  If you don’t know where to begin at AIPLA – introduce yourself to me, to a Committee Leader, a Past President, or Headquarters staff and we will help you!

Finally, many of you here are already leaders in this organization or have been leaders – please stay involved – your voice is critical to the future direction of intellectual property, and we count on you for your expertise. 

I look forward to serving you as this Association’s President and working with everyone.  Please join us and be a part of this wonderful organization!

Opening Plenary: Director Vidal Addresses Reform, Modernization, and Innovation

AIPLA President Patrick Coyne kicked off the 2022 Annual Meeting on October 27th with a plenary featuring the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Kathi Vidal. Coyne opened the Meeting celebrating not only all that AIPLA has accomplished this past year, but also marking the organization’s historic anniversary- 125 years! Coyne provided a brief highlight of AIPLA’s activities during the past year and recognized the work of the IP Practice in Europe Committee, presenting them with the Committee of the Year Award. 

 

Coyne then invited Director Vidal to the stage for a fireside chat, where they addressed a range of issues, from Section 101 Guidance, Director Review, and DOCX, to examiner training, trademark fraudulence, and a few of her key initiatives- fostering greater diversity in the innovation ecosystem and expanding pro bono efforts. 

 

Vidal reflected on her six months as Director thus far, noting that what has surprised and impressed her the most is the sincere “passion, enthusiasm, and dedication to public service” that exists amongst her colleagues at the USPTO. Not only meeting with stakeholders like AIPLA, but the Director also took her lunches to meet with employees of the agency. 

The Director addressed reform and modernization at the USPTO, touching on the need for updates to Section 101 Guidance, and made a push for the adoption of DOCX. A key takeaway- the Director is very open to public input. On three occasions, she encouraged the audience to submit comments and feedback to the agency via a dedicated email set up for AIPLA. 

 

Vidal’s most impassioned plea and signature issue at the USPTO is for the expansion of the innovation ecosystem. Recently appointed as the Vice Chair of the Council for Inclusive Innovation, the Director drove home the need to return to being a “startup nation” saying that innovation is crucial for “national security, the economy, and jobs...and for where we stand as a country.” She noted that by fostering innovation we in turn foster prosperity. She emphasized ensuring that everyone is included in the innovation ecosystem saying, “what could be better for the public good than protecting and serving those who are underrepresented.” Vidal thanked AIPLA for supporting the pro bono program and encouraging more members to get involved. Click here if you want more information on the Pro Bono program.

Keynote Speaker Judge Kimberly Moore Shares Her Wisdom from the Bench

Reflecting on the conversation earlier in the day with USPTO Director Vidal, AIPLA President Patrick Coyne again made a pitch for the pro bono program, noting that it is seeing great success in reaching minority innovators, and that with support from AIPLA we are making great strides in increasing diversity, but more needs to be done. Coyne then introduced the keynote speaker, the Honorable Kimberly Moore, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C. for the keynote luncheon remarks. 

 

Judge Moore opened her keynote address giving thanks to those who came before her and who have been her inspiration and role models on the bench- namely, Judge Giles Rich (for whom AIPLA’s Giles Rich Memorial Moot Court Competition is named), Judge Pauline Newman, and Judge Alan Lourie- both of whom have won AIPLA’s highest honor, the Excellence Award. She also praised her fellow judges on the bench for their dedication to public service. 

 

Judge Moore- a history buff- expressed her excitement in discovering the rich history the buildings of the Federal Circuit hold. Prior to housing the Federal Circuit, the buildings were home to Dolly Madison, the Cosmos Club, the headquarters for the Wright brothers’ research, the women’s suffragette movement, and NASA, noting to laughter that there is a picture of space monkeys adorning the wall of the court. Judge Moore encouraged everyone to pay a visit to the buildings, use their library for research, and sit in on court cases. 

 

Judge Moore closed her remarks reflecting on a billboard she passes every morning which criticizes the patent system.  Noting that while IP practitioners may understand that on average it costs $10 billion to develop a new drug and can take up to 10 years for FDA approval- the public does not. It is incumbent upon the profession, she said, to educate the public about the cost of innovation and advocate for it. While education is great for practitioners, Judge Moore unabashedly stated that we are “preaching to the choir.” The patent system benefits the country and innovation drives prosperity, which is something the public needs to know. 

Diversity in IP: Bettering the Legal System Through Greater Inclusivity

 

As AIPLA celebrates 125 years, it is notable to contrast the membership at its inception to where we are now. Not only have we grown in sheer numbers, but the Association has become a much more inclusive organization made up of a diverse group of IP practitioners. This is certainly worthy of celebration, but there are ways to go both for the Association, but also the IP world. We hosted a panel to address diversity in IP, featuring The Honorable Barbara M. G. Lynn, of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Lisa Collins of BakerHostetler, Tara Trask of Trask Consulting, Clara Jimenez of Johnson & Johnson, and Brent Hawkins of Morgan Lewis. 

 

Tara Trask opened the panel with notable statistics to frame the conversation, stating that the legal profession remains to be a predominantly white male profession. There was little change in polling from 2020 to 2022 on race and gender of practitioners, however an increase was seen in female associates participating in trials- a statistic Tara noted was “likely due to a lot more females going to law school and graduating.” 

 

Brent Hawkins opened the floor for discussion, asking how to go about changing the statistics for the better. Judge Lynn strongly emphasized the need for greater diversity in the courtroom, saying that not only does it make jurors feel more comfortable to see counsel reflect reality outside the profession, but also that diversity in race, gender, and ethnicity also often leads to diversity in thought. Trask drove this point home noting that the goal is to “build the most effective trial team and the most effective trial team is a diverse trial team.” 

 

Clara Jimenez echoed this thought encouraging more experienced practitioners to bring younger associates, who are often more diverse than partners, into the room early in their career, giving them the experience and knowledge they need to be the best. Lisa Collins agreed saying that, “it is key to train young diverse people, so they are well equipped to be in the courtroom.” She encouraged the audience to involve associates in the beginning of the trial process, so the client feels comfortable with them taking a more active role in the courtroom, noting that “associates will not gain experience unless given experience.”

 

All strongly cautioned against tokenism, saying that what jurors dislike more than homogenous trial teams are trial teams with token minorities. 

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Upcoming Events

  • AIPLA CLE Webinar: Introduction to the UPC

    February 9, 2023 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM   |   Up to 90 CLE Minutes

    June 1, 2023 is the current target date for the EU Unified Patent Court (UPC) to open and begin receiving cases. The UPC will have parallel territorial jurisdiction with national patent courts for all existing European Patents unless the patent owners “opt-out” of UPC jurisdiction. Learn all about revocation and infringement actions before the UPC as well as the respective course of these proceedings and the efficient management thereof. This webinar covers the intricacies of the different proceedings and provides strategies from a plaintiff’s and a defendant’s perspective. To put you in a position to select the jurisdiction that suits your needs best, similarities and differences between selected national proceedings and proceedings before the UPC will be pointed out.
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    February 14, 2023 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM   |   No CLE

    Welcome to Part 2 of the Guide to creating and running an ethical IP Law Firm. This 90-minute webinar has something for those interested in starting their own practice as well as for those who may want to restructure or clean up an existing practice. Our two expert speakers will address a range of topics including the different types of organizational structures for law firms; who is allowed to own or partner in a law firm (answering questions for Patent Agents too!); common operational agreements; billing and determining your firm’s fees; trust account, record-keeping and banking practices; getting paid; and insurance considerations for your IP law firm.
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    February 15, 2023 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM

    AIPLA’s Committee on the Profession is inviting you to join us around the virtual water cooler for a quick break. Drop in and catch up with colleagues old and new at this informal networking meetup. All are welcome.
  • AIPLA CLE Webinar: Unified Patent Court and Unitary Patents

    March 2, 2023 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM   |   Up to 90 CLE Minutes

    The Unitary Patent Court (UPC) will most likely enter into force in early 2023. That means that applicants and proprietors of European patent applications that have been granted European patents would need to determine their strategy for their European IP. If no action is taken, then the legal framework of the UPC will affect even the already granted EP patents. This webinar will discuss the effects of the UPC coming into force, as well as the options and decisions that the applicants and proprietors need to consider and implement.
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    May 10 to 12, 2023

    Join us for a great program at the Westin Seattle in Seattle, WA. Educational and Networking events are May 10-12. AIPLA Board and Leadership Meetings are May 9.