From May 13-17, I had the pleasure of attending the Patent Law Institute hosted by the Duke Law Center for Judicial Studies in association with the American Intellectual Property Association. The Institute was held at Duke University and was attended by a variety of patent practitioners, including prosecutors, litigators and in-house professionals. The week-long intensive program focused on the many changes in patent law that have occurred over the last few years, especially the America Invents Act (AIA).
The program began with an introduction to the AIA, including the major provisions of the act, the rationale for these provisions and the legislative history. It even included a guest speaker who helped to formulate the legislation and ensure its passage. Then, the program moved into the specifics of the AIA, including discussions on first-to-file, third-party prior art submissions, and new post-grant proceedings. There was also a full day on patent validity requirements and the current status of patentable subject matter at the Federal Circuit and the Supreme Court. Finally, the program concluded with a discussion on patent assertion entities, standards and antitrust.
In addition to the discussions of substantive patent law, the program included practical applications of the new provisions and case law. Each topic was given separate time to discuss the impact on patent prosecution, patent litigation and patent licensing. The speakers did a terrific job of explaining each topic’s impact on the different facets of a patent practice, providing specific examples and posing hypothetical questions. Even where there is an unsettled issue of law or a question that has not been addressed, the speakers were able to provide guidance to the audience.
The most interesting part of the program was the guest speakers. Every day there was at least one guest speaker that had personal knowledge and experience about the topic. The speakers included Chief Judge Randall Rader, Judge T.S. Ellis III, Patrick McBride and Jorge Contreras, among others. All of the guest speakers were very informed and provided practical insights on the impact of the topic of the day. The speakers really helped to take esoteric topics and make them concrete and real.
Overall, the Patent Law Institute was an incredibly helpful week. It provided a crash-course in the new aspects of the AIA and posed critical questions that practitioners will face in the near future. For me, just being able to be in the presence of such accomplished speakers and practitioners was a great honor. I hope I can attend next year as well!
– Suzy Fitzgerald