2023 Spring Meeting June 2023

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Over 400 intellectual property practitioners joined AIPLA in Seattle for the 2023 Spring Meeting for three days of CLE, networking, and celebration. We were joined by USPTO Director Kathi Vidal, who addressed a wide range of issues from the recent ANPRM and harmonization, to DOCX, the patent Pro Bono Program, and more. Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the Seattle Kraken, Lance Lopes, and former Vice President and Chief Litigation Counsel at Apple, Noreen Krall, were our keynote luncheon speakers. Our top-notch CLE sessions covered hot topics in IP, including diversity in the wine industry, fair use in filmmaking, non-competition covenants in the age of remote and hybrid work, trademark and the use of AI tools, and more.   

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President's Message - Brian H. Batzli – Spring 2023

Brian H. Batzli

Reflecting on the midpoint of my term as AIPLA’s President, I want to give kudos to AIPLA’s members for their incredible work and dedication on behalf of the Association. Since the start of the year, we have submitted over 15 comment letters and amicus briefs, testified in numerous hearings and roundtables, held the first in person World IP Day event since before the pandemic, participated in the 16th Annual Design Day, and so much more. To say we have been busy is an understatement!  

On the advocacy front, we participated in roundtables on NFT’s and the USPTO-FDA collaboration. President-Elect Ann Mueting recently represented AIPLA at the PPAC hearing and Board Member Ted Davis at the TPAC hearing on the USPTO’s fee proposal. We submitted comments on a wide range of topics from practice before the Office and PTAB, and robust and reliable patents, to AI, DOCX, and to the FTC on non-competes. We filed amicus briefs in four cases with the Supreme Court- Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith, Jack Daniels v. VIP Products, Abitron v. Hetronic, and Amgen Inc. v. Sanofi, and one with the Virginia Court of Appeals, Appian v. Pegasystems. 

We are also pleased to have “rebooted” our delegation trips to different countries and regional offices abroad.  In fact, in April AIPLA's IP Practice in the Far East conducted a Delegation Trip to Vietnam and Korea - the first since before COVID. We also submitted comments to CNIPA on their examination guidelines and to the SAMR on anticompetition rules. We welcomed a delegation to AIPLA headquarters from JIPA in April, and in the summer are looking forward to participating in the IP5 Heads of Office Meeting, the WIPO General Assembly, and more.  

We joined together for another excellent Spring Meeting, welcoming IP professionals from around the world to Seattle.  Thank you to Kim Van Voorhis, the Officer-in-Charge, as well as the Professional Programs leadership of Elise Selinger and Kristin Cleveland, who have done a great job leading a mighty group of volunteers.  

The continued advocacy success of the Association is thanks to all your efforts as members. We truly are a membership organization, and I am thankful to lead such a group of IP practitioners. 

USPTO Director Kathi Vidal Addresses Diversity, Progress, and Innovation During the Opening Plenary

Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Kathi Vidal, addressed AIPLA’s 2023 Spring Meeting in Seattle.  


In her keynote remarks during the Opening Plenary, Director Vidal addressed a wide range of issues from the agency’s recent Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Artificial Intelligence, and the Unleashing American Innovators Act, to the future of DOCX, harmonization, and more. On the robust and reliable rulemaking process, the Director noted that next steps include reviewing stakeholder feedback and proposing a rule to make “surgical and strategic changes.”

Expanding diversity and inclusion in the innovation ecosystem remains a key initiative for the Director noting that, “every country knows that the future of their success depends on tapping into potential across their nations.” Director Vidal addressed the importance of the USPTO’s Pro Bono Program and Women’s Empowerment (WE) Initiatives in reaching the underserved in the innovation economy.
Director Vidal thanked AIPLA for its efforts in responding to Requests for Comments, our alliance and collaboration on issues such as training patent examiners, and continued advocacy in all areas of IP. 

AIPLA Toasts to the Future of Diversity in the Wine Industry


The Spring Meeting’s Diversity Plenary showcased the Washington State wine industry and barriers to inclusion that exist for minority winemakers. The plenary was moderated by Elizabeth Dougherty, the Eastern Regional Outreach Director for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and featured three experts in the industry, Melissa Hansen, who serves as the Research Program Director for Washington State Wine; Katja Loeffelholz, an IP Attorney at Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty in Napa, CA; and Phil Long, the Founder and Winemaker at Longevity Wines, and President of the Association of African American Vintners.

Hansen opened by painting a picture of the current state of the wine industry in Washington. She noted that 90% of wineries in the state are small, family-owned businesses, and that much of the focus at Washington State Wine is around research, be it sustainable pet control, climate change, water usage, or recycling. 


Loeffelholz walked the group through the intellectual property ramifications and requirements for producing wine, explaining that trademarks, copyrights, trade dress, and design patents all play a role in bottling wine. A winemaker must seek trademark protection for the brand name, vineyard designation, tagline or slogan, and certification and service marks. Loeffelholz noted that wineries will often hire an independent contractor to design the label and bottle, and while the winery has a license to use the copyrighted design on the bottle, the intricacies of copyright law come into play if the winery wants to produce branded merchandise, such as a t-shirt or hat. 


Phil Long of Longevity Wines closed the panel by addressing diversity in the wine industry working as an African American vintner. Long noted that the wine industry is “one of the worst industries for diversity,” explaining that minority winemakers make up less than one half of 1% of the industry. Long shared his winemaking journey, from an architecture student in Southern California to producing his first batch of wine as an amateur winemaker in 2003. Five years later, Long opened his first commercial winery in Livermore Valley, where 10 years later Longevity Wines was voted the top winery. Long now holds the record as the third largest African American owned winery in the world, distributing to over 6,000 locations worldwide. Long become the President of the Association of African American Vintners in 2020, after joining three years prior. On expanding diversity in the industry, Long remarked that “awareness is key,” saying that most people do not know there are African American owned wineries. Long is working to create partnerships with different organizations to establish scholarships for young people of color to learn about the industry and break into it. 

Long closed noting the importance of IP in the business, stating that, had he not done the “correct things with IP, I wouldn't be here today doing what I do.” Long then put his product and expertise on display with a wine tasting during the Diversity Committee’s business meeting. 

Ethics and Espresso: Ethics Training Focused on Practice Before the USPTO and PTAB

The takeaway from the ethics plenary- be a good, upstanding practitioner who abides by the morals and ethics of law and practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Dahlia George from the Office of Enrollment and Discipline (OED) at the USPTO, and Judge Jacqueline Wright Bonilla of the PTAB outlined requirements for ethical practice before the USPTO and PTAB and the consequences for failure to do so. 


George opened by explaining what constitutes practice of law before the PTAB and the mission of the OED, which is to not to go after practitioners for every misdemeanor or infraction, a point she emphasized throughout the hour. The goal of OED in George’s words is about “protecting the profession and the public,” because if you have a practitioner who isn't up to snuff, the public gets hurt.” On how an investigation gets opened, George explained that most complaints come to them externally, meaning the OED is not on a witch hunt for unethical practitioners. Most cases, she explained, come from opposing counsel, clients, or from within the subject's firm. Investigations begin with a Request for Information (RFI)- something George cautioned against ignoring because it allows for fact gathering from all sides. Many complaints either go away after examination or the subject will receive a confidential warning. Only serious misconduct results in going before a panel. George also noted the high standard of proof the OED must provide- clear and convincing, and cases face a one-year statute of limitations, per the AIA. 


George also touched on the OED Diversion Pilot Program, noting that rehabilitation is always the first step for someone coming before the OED. 


Should a case go before the panel, Judge Wright Bonilla emphasized that “nastiness is not persuasive to judges.” The best approach is always to demonstrate proper decorum to both the judges and to fellow practitioners.


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