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Politicians honoured at North America Awards

US Senator Patrick Leahy and Congressman Lamar Smith this week received outstanding achievement awards for their part in passing the America Invents Act

The two members of Congress were recognised for their work at Managing IP's annual North America Awards dinner in Washington DC.

Smith (right) attended the dinner to accept the award in person. In a short speech, he paid tribute to all the Congressional staff and

those in thprivate sector and at the USPTO who had worked on the reform legislation.

He also noted that he had built a warm relationship with Leahy and that the AIA was a rare example of bipartisan achievement in Congress.

Leahy was unable to attend the dinner, but senior counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee Aaron Cooper accepted the award on his behalf.

The awards were presented by USPTO Director David Kappos. He said: "Both the senior senator from Vermont and the 13th term congressman from Texas have long championed the criticality of intellectual property in empowering society to build upon and advance from one breakthrough to the next."

"We're a nation of ideas. Larger than life ideas. And now, turning those ideas into great American businesses has gotten the upgrade of the century thanks to Chairman Leahy and Chairman Smith," added Kappos.

Former Judge T John Ward, who last year retired from the Eastern District of Texas, and Bob Stoll, who retired from the USPTO lasyear, received awards for lifetime achievement.

In his acceptance speech, Ward (opposite, right) said the AIA was "a great example of how the system was designed to work" with the executive branch, legislative branch and judicial branch all working together.

"There is no greater achievement in this day and age than bipartisanship. I congratulate you," he said to Smith, a fellow Texan.

Introducing Ward's award, Chief Judge Rader of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (opposite, left) called him "one of the greatest trial judges that ever graced the federal bench" and said he had probably tried more patent cases than any other federal judge.

"I was planning to list his greatest cases, but I don't want to give the US Supreme Court any targets," added Rader.

He also described how when he visited the Marshall, Texas courtroom to hear a case, Ward invited him to sit down in his chair, with his feet on the desk. "Now that's the way you're supposed to feel when you're in my courthouse in Texas," said Ward, according to Rader.

Ward paid tribute to his clerks and also addressed the audience of US IP lawyers: "It's the rule of law that makes us the greatest country in the world in my opinion. You practising lawyers are the guardians of the system and it's on your shoulders to make sure we continue."

Stoll (opposite, right) was recognised for his 29 years of service to the PTO, latterly as commissioner for patents. After retiring from the Office last year, his now a partner at Drinker Biddle.

Introducing the award, Kappos (opposite, left) described him as "a giant in the IP community" and added: "His distinguished tenure, strong leadership, and keen command of issues confronting the country's inventors, helped lead the patents organisation through critical junctures in the agency's history – and our nation is indeed greatly indebted to that service."

Stoll said he was moved to receive the award and paid tribute to his former colleagues and his wife, who joined him at the ceremony. He said that attending the dinner was the closest thing he was likely to experience to winning an Oscar.

The North America Awards dinner took place at the Four Seasons in Georgetown, Washington DC. About 200 people attended, with awards being presented to the leading regional and national firms in the United States and Canada.

Also celebrating was Bret Parker of Elizabeth Arden, who was attending the Awards dinner as a representative of INTA. The dinner took place the evening before his birthday and other guests at his table serenaded him between courses.

Pictures from the ceremony are available on Facebook.

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