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The most influential people in the Americas

Managing IP’s Top 50 list picks out the individuals shaping the IP industry worldwide. The 2012 Americas list is dominated by US judges and USPTO members, as the America Invents Act begins to be implemented

The top 50 in the Americas:

Charles Bullock
Peggy Focarino
Justin Hughes
Michael Jordan
David Kappos
Sylvain Laporte
Mark Lemley
José Luis Londoño Fernandez
Alexander MacGillivray
Gregg Marrazzo
Larry Page
Kurt Pritz
Judge Randall Rader
Dan Ravicher
Judge James Smith
Paul Stahura
Jimmy Wales

Charles Bullock, ITC

As chief administrative law judge (ALJ) of the US International Trade Commission, Charles Bullock leads a court that will play an increasingly important role with the enactment of the America Invents Act . The venue may also see a surge of investigations against counterfeit luxury products, with Louis Vuitton successfully obtaining an exclusion order earlier this year. Before serving on the ITC, Bullock was a trial attorney and ALJ at the Federal Regulatory Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Further reading

Chief ALJ Charles E Bullock
Louis Vuitton case could lead to rush at the ITC
Louis Vuitton ruling could spur use of ITC for trade marks

Peggy Focarino, USPTO

Peggy Focarino has four children, a husband and two Newfoundlands – but she still somehow finds time to make her own homemade wine ("all kinds except chardonnay; we don't like chardonnay", says the USPTO's commissioner for patents). And it's lucky that she likes being kept busy, because Focarino also happens to be in charge of patent operations during one of the most crucial transitions in the US patent system since its inception....

Read the full interview with Peggy Focarino

Justin Hughes, Cardozo Law School

Like an American superhero, Justin Hughes has two identities. By day, he is a popular professor at Cardozo Law School in New York. By night, he is transformed into senior adviser to the Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, focusing on copyright issues. It is in this capacity that he has represented the US government in multinational negotiations all over the world, notably in the successful conclusion of this year's Audiovisual Performances Treaty in Beijing and in negotiations over access to copyrighted materials for blind people.

Politically a Democrat, Hughes previously served in the Clinton Administration but left for academia in 2000. He returned to government part-time in 2009, and immediately made an impact in helping to restart the dormant audiovisual performances talks. "Justin more than anyone played a very significant role in building a coalition," one industry source told Managing IP. Hughes's interest in copyright is not just academic: he used to chair the Technicolor/Thomson Foundation for Film and Television Heritage and founded the Cardozo Law School Indie Film Clinic.

Further reading

Why harmonisation has a future
Fordham report: basketball and harmonisation
Facing the digital challenge
Surrendering words to the EU – Justin Hughes on GIs

Michael Jordan

There aren't many people that have a shoe named after them. But then most people aren't NBA superstars. Michael Jordan's fame has earned him millions of dollars from product endorsements: so when he learnt that a Chinese company called Qiaodan was selling basketball shoes, he set about trying to win back what he believes are his rights to his name.

Despite Fujian-based Qiaodan Sports Co having a trade mark for the name Qiaodan, Jordan filed a lawsuit that the Chinese courts accepted on March 1. He argues that Qiaodan (乔丹) is the name by which Chinese fans have known him since he gained popularity in the mid-1980s.

"I feel the need to protect my name, my identity, and the Chinese consumers," Jordan said in a video. "It's about principle – protecting my identity and my name."

If Jordan succeeds, the case could give more companies and individuals the confidence to pursue rivals who they believe have hijacked the goodwill in their names to make money in the world's biggest market. It is not just a problem that besets foreigners: last year a Chinese court backed the country's most famous basketball player, Yao Ming, in a lawsuit against Wuhan Yunhe Sharks Sportswear Co after it had used the words Yao Ming Era on its clothing. Yi Jianlian, another Chinese basketball star, has also won against Fujian Yi Jianlian Sport Goods Co after a court ruled that an "individual's name right should be recognised as a prior right".

Further reading

China backs away from bad faith crackdown
Don’t let your brand be a three-legged horse in China
Land Rover faces uphill trade mark battle in China

David Kappos, USPTO

Since his appointment by President Barack Obama as USPTO director in August 2009, David Kappos has had perhaps more work to do than any other USPTO head in history. In addition to everyday operations, he is in charge of carrying out 37 separate requirements of the America Invents Act relating to 23 different provisions of the legislation. That includes 13 separate rulemakings, each of which must go through the standard notice and comment process. He is heading the first ever expansion of the USPTO with the opening of the Detroit satellite Office and plans to launch three more offices by 2014 in San Jose, California, Dallas, Texas and Denver Colorado. That means a larger workforce – and hopefully, a smaller backlog – than ever before....

Read the full story on David Kappos

Sylvain LaPorte, Canadian Patent Office

With just a year under his belt as CIPO's commissioner of patents, registrar of trade marks and CEO, Sylvain Laporte is in the midst of tackling two of his main goals: to make Canadian companies more competitive by using intellectual property to leverage innovation and to better understand the innovator. "I was a bit amazed by how little CIPO understood our customer – the paying customer, the innovator," says Laporte, who previously held director-level positions in marketing. "We have a fantastic relationship with our IP agents to the point that the organisation would confuse the customer with the IP agent."....

Read the full interview with Sylvain Laporte

Mark Lemley, Stanford Law School and Durie Tangri

The author of more than 112 articles and seven books on IP as well as numerous amicus briefs, Mark Lemley has played a key role on many of the most important IP cases and topics of our time. In the past year he has weighed in on the willful blindness standard with an amicus brief in Global Tech v SEB; vocally opposed the Protect IP Act along with 107 other IP professors; and is now representing The Dish in a copyright case that promises to clarify the law around how much unlicensed copying and storage of content is considered non-infringing with respect to digital video recording systems.

Further reading

Cablevision case may not help DISH in the Second Circuit, June 2012
Litigation trends lead to US changes, February 2012
Judge says Zediva violates public performance rights, August 2011
Shaping the future of IP, July 2011
Professors oppose rogue sites bill, July 2011
What three Supreme Court decisions mean, July 2011

José Luis Londoño Fernandez, Colombia Patent and Trade Mark Office

As director of IP in Colombia's Department of Commerce and Industry, Jose Luis Londoño Fernandez will be leading the country's trade mark community as it begins accepting Madrid Protocol applications for the first time. In late May, Colombia became the first South American nation to join the Madrid System on international trade mark registration and will begin taking applications at the end of August. It is expected to be a boost to further countries in the region, including Mexico, so filling in the System's biggest gap worldwide.

Further reading

Americas IP Handbook editorial: Mexican lawyers resist Madrid Protocol, June 2012
Colombia joins Madrid Protocol on trade marks, May 2012
Interview: Ricardo Blancaflor, Philippines IP Office, May 2012
Madrid System set to expand, May 2012

Alexander MacGillivray, Twitter

As users have flocked to Twitter, so too have companies. This is precisely why general counsel Alexander MacGillivray (or, @amac, as he's known to the web) says calling Twitter a social network is a misnomer. He insists it is an "information" network. "The basic difference is that Twitter is and has always been predominantly a place to reach as many people as possible with a message, as opposed to a place to connect with family and friends," he says. "Brands such as CNN or Starbucks can interact with customers directly on Twitter without the user having to figure out whether Starbucks is their 'friend'."

Further reading

In-house counsel get lesson in Twitter
How to be social with the media
ACTA battle fought out on Twitter

Gregg Marrazzo, Estée Lauder and INTA

Greg Marrazz
o is heading the International Trademark Association at a pivotal moment in the reputation of trade mark law. With the death of pro-IP bills SOPA and PIPA earlier this year, INTA and trade mark owners have their work cut out for them trying to get the public – particularly younger adults and teens – to understand the value of IP enforcement. Marrazzo has been leading efforts such as INTA's Unreal Campaign to help counter negative perceptions, and will also have his hands full helping members to cope with new gTLDs, many of which may be live as soon as early 2013.

Further reading

INTA’s Unreal campaign challenges teens, May 2012
Profile: INTA President Gregg Marrazzo, May 2012
INTA honours New York lawyer, November 2011

Larry Page, Google

Last year, Managing IP chose Google copyright counsel Fred von Lohmann as one of the Top 50 for his role in the long-running Google Book Search settlement and Viacom v YouTube cases. But in just a year's time, the internet company has become one of the key forces shaping US IP law around patents and trade marks as well. Whether mostly beating out Oracle over patent and copyright claims in California, being sued by Rosetta Stone for trade mark infringement, buying up Motorola's patents after being blocked from buying the more desirable Nortel portfolio, throwing its weight around to help kill IP-friendly legislation, surviving a big lawsuit brought by Viacom or trying to salvage its library project in New York court, the company has been front and centre on some of the most cutting-edge IP topics of the year. While it's not likely that co-founder and CEO Larry Page ever set out to be voted the most influential person of the year in IP, we think the trends his company is setting warrant the title....

Read the full story on Larry Page

Kurt Pritz, Icann

Kurt Pritz says he is exhausted. In the past few months, he has overseen the application process for Icann's new gTLD programme, dodging heavy criticism after a software glitch delayed the process by a month. With CEO Rod Beckstrom, he was the public face of the launch in London; soon after his role was expanded, as he took on the responsibilities of program director Michael Salazar, who had resigned; two weeks later, he was in Prague for Icann's public meeting, dealing with the varying concerns of applicants, IP rights owners and registrars. This culminated with the Icann Board summarily ditching Icann's much-criticised digital archery system for prioritising gTLD applications....

Read the full interview with Kurt Pritz

Judge Randall Rader, US Federal Circuit

Professor, author and sometime rock star, to the patent bar Randall Rader is primarily chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit – the country's authoritative voice (second, that is, to the Supreme Court) on all things patents. In recent years, the Federal Circuit has presided over feuds on breast cancer gene patents (The Association for Molecular Pathology v the USPTO) and the patent eligibility of diagnostic method claims (Prometheus v Mayo), and is due to issue opinions on joint infringement (Akamai Technologies v Limelight Networks and McKesson Technologies v Epic Systems Corp) this year....

Read the full story on Judge Randall Rader

Dan Ravicher, Public Patent Foundation

Bound for Washington for the last oral argument of Association for Molecular Pathology v Myriad Genetics before the Federal Circuit, Dan Ravicher rifled through a stack of papers. What he originally thought were briefs were actually handwritten letters from elementary school students chiming in about the case. "All these thoughts from young kids got the point," Ravicher tells Managing IP. "Before all else, do no harm." The case – a dispute over patents on the breast cancer genes held by Myriad and the University of Utah – has been politicised and watched closely by the public. It's a fight that has implications for public policy and people's access to critical technology for testing. "That was something that made me smile," Ravicher adds. "It really confirmed that kids, better than anyone else, have intuition."....

Read the full interview with Dan Ravicher

Judge James Smith, USPTO

Since joining the USPTO's Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (BPAI) as chief judge in May last year, James Smith has been enjoying what he terms a "confluence" of his many roles over the last 27 years. Having majored in electrical engineering as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland at College Park, he went on to work as a USPTO examiner, private practice attorney, clerk to Judge Paul Michel at the Federal Circuit and most recently, chief IP counsel at Baxter International – all roles that should serve him well as he leads the BPAI into its new life as the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) beginning September 16....

Read the full interview with Judge James Smith

Paul Stahura, Donuts

If you are a trade mark owner and aren't already familiar with Donuts, you soon will be. When Icann announced last month that it had received 1,930 applications for new gTLDs, Donuts – a start-up company with $100 million in venture funding – was revealed as the single biggest applicant, responsible for nearly one in six applications. Strings it is seeking range from .academy and .accountants to .yoga and .zone. While it is competing with other applicants for many of them, the company says it has the will – and the cash – to win and operate all of the 307 gTLDs it seeks.

CEO Paul Strahura leads a seven-man executive team at Donuts, all of them seasoned domain-name specialists. Before launching the company, he founded registrar eNom in his garage; 10 years later it was making $80 million in revenue, and he sold to Demand Media. He also owns four US patents. But testifying to Congress in 2009, he admitted that he always wanted to run a registry, rather than a registrar. Donuts will give him that chance: it has a serious business plan, including provisions for enhanced IP protection, and along with other big gTLD operators such as TLD Holdings it is set to transform business on the internet.

Further reading

New gTLD candidates in confidential talks, July 2012
Icann debates protection for failed gTLD registries, June 2012
How to protect marks in the new gTLDs, June 2012
New gTLDs and Icann, June 2012
Google and Amazon lead gTLD applicants, June 2012

Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia

When the website co-founded by Jimmy Wales went black in January this year, the world collectively learned about IP. Many would argue the lessons included misinformation and caused unnecessary panic, but Wikipedia nevertheless led an internet campaign that clinched the decision to kill two pro-IP bills that many trade mark and copyright owners had their hearts set on. As they and Congress attempt to start over, there will be no ignoring the internet community, thanks to the unprecedented response Wales' website elicited.

Further reading

Getting your message to Congress, May 2012
IP communicators to discuss attack on enforcement, April 2012
Pallante dubs SOPA opponents confused, March 2012
Defending IP post-SOPA, March 2012
As Google goes black, Congress prepares to debate PIPA, January 2012

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