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AIPLA's continuous balancing act

We interview Lisa Jorgenson, AIPLA's executive director, ahead of the association's annual meeting, which starts today

Lisa Jorgenson has been AIPLA's Executive Director for almost two years. She started in the role in November 2014, having previously been Group Vice President of Intellectual Property and Licensing at STMicroelectronics.

Jorgenson quickly realized that the work of the Association has increased since her time on the Board from 2005-2008. "A lot more activity goes on at headquarters that I ever imagined," she says. "As one person put it, it is like drinking from a fire hose on a constant basis."

AIPLA's diversity of membership and diversity of issues has grown tremendously. AIPLA has taken a bigger role in international issues, such as patent harmonization, global dossier, the Industry Trilateral and the Industry IP5. This year alone, the Association has submitted comment letters to seven different countries or patent offices. It has also grown its regional IP Practice Committees, which now includes Latin America. AIPLA's IP Practice Committee delegations traveled to six different overseas regions this year.

With so much going on domestically and globally, AIPLA is challenged with prioritizing the issues on which to focus its resources.

"It is an ongoing balancing act to find the right mix between being reactive to what comes up and being proactive to find a way to get ahead of what we believe will be the critical issues, whether here in the US or abroad. We have to choose the ones we believe are most important to our members and get ahead of the curve."

One recent example of an important issue came up on October 14 when the USPTO announced in a notice published in the Federal Register that it will begin a nationwide conversation on patent eligible subject matter through two roundtable discussions, one in Alexandria, Virginia on November 14 and one at Stanford University in Stanford, California on December 5.

"We've had a task force working in the patent subject matter eligibility area for about a year and a half," says Jorgenson. "We believe we are ahead of the game. We have been proactively identifying and analyzing the issues. We may not have all the solutions but when the Federal Register Notice came out, we were already on top of the issues."

Jorgenson notes that subject matter eligibility is one of the issues where consensus will be difficult to achieve. "The answers are not easy and a fair amount of time is needed before people will be able to finally coalesce around more of a single solution," she says. "We are making sure we can get the best people in a room on a regular basis to discuss the issues."

Another big issue on members' minds is the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB). "It is still fairly new to many people and there is still some uncertainty about how things will be played out at the Patent Office as well as the Federal Circuit," says Jorgenson. "Any time there is something new in intellectual property, it does have some uncertainty to it. So we are watching very carefully, paying close attention to cases that come out of the PTAB including the cases that go to the Federal Circuit, and of course keeping our members updated."

Attendees will have the chance to gain further insights into the PTAB today. The luncheon keynote speaker is David Ruschke, who became the PTAB Chief Judge this past May. He was previously managing the IP portfolio of Medtronic's CSH business unit.

"Chief Judge Ruschke has a lot of experience that he is bringing to the table for the USPTO," says Jorgenson. "The discussion that he and Denise DeFranco will have promises to be very enlightening in terms of how he would like to see the PTAB move forward. So I am really looking forward to that lunch."

Another constant issue for AIPLA is legal reform. For example, the Association was involved in discussions around the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, which was signed into law in May. "We worked hard on that bill which was a truly bipartisan bill. This was a good bill for the American economy, and good for our members and their clients. So we are very happy with the result," says Jorgenson.

"We've remained very active on the issues on the Hill, and that includes patent litigation reform," says Jorgenson. "We anticipate that this activity will increase again and we will be paying close attention to it, staying involved in the process and educating people on the issues."

Advocacy is a core activity for AIPLA. This includes amicus issues, with the Association filing briefs in nine cases this year. "Both the areas of the law and the types of issues are very diverse which makes it interesting and challenging to pull together a really well thought out and very purposeful amicus brief. We have a very good reputation in the courts so when AIPLA submits a brief, the courts know that a lot of thought has gone into the issues."

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