California Lawyers Association, Intellectual Property Law

Event Recap: 47th Annual IP Institute

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December 2023

By John Pavolotsky
Chair, Intellectual Property Law Section

It’s 4:15 p.m., Saturday, November 4, 2023. Our last session, Rule 8.3, AI, and Other Hot Topics in Legal Ethics, concludes, and so does the 47th Annual IP Institute. Nearly a year’s worth of planning, and just like that, it’s over.

Of course, planning a conference is a group effort. I owe much gratitude to my fabulous IP Institute Planning Committee: Warren Dranit, Barbara Friedman, Samantak Ghosh, Mark Leonard, Jon Lurie, Bob Payne, Elizabeth Rest, Jeff Smyth, Soody Tronson, John Wierzbicki, and Emily Yu. Section Manager Kristina Robledo was a rockstar, effortlessly working behind the scenes to ensure a seamless learning and social experience for our attendees. Matt Overton assisted expertly with sponsorships. Zarah Falanah crafted engaging social media copy, including the “Chair in the Chair,” and otherwise assisted with conference logistics. I am likely omitting other CLA staff, so I apologize in advance.

The conference started with a welcome reception on Thursday, November 2, 2023, at the Omni Hotel in downtown San Diego. There, I met our IP Section Student Reporters, Jasmine Bond, Devon Esguerra, and Tereza Markova, to review conference logistics. I was pleased to see many familiar faces at the reception and equally happy to make new acquaintances. The IP Section is a community of California IP attorneys, as well as attorneys, students, and others interested in IP law.

As intimated above, the conference was seamless, although, of course, there was some, if not considerable, work behind the scenes.  

Our speakers were engaging and thought-provoking. Our topics spanned AI to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. We had 14 hours of CLE programming, including two specialty credits. These will be available on InReach soon if they are not available already. 

On the first full day, Friday, November 3, 2023, I hosted a lunch table topic session on AI and privacy. Our fun event, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. that evening, was Throw It! Yes, axe throwing. Unsurprisingly, IP attorneys and a few of our wonderful sponsors participated in and enjoyed throwing small and larger axes, as well as ever-so-vexing shovels. On the second day of the conference, I had the pleasure and privilege of presenting the IP Section’s Vanguard Awards for Academia and Private Practice. We used a “fireside chat” format, relatively informal and relaxed, to learn more about our 2023 winners, Professor Orly Lobel and Stephen Doniger. I was inspired by the conversation and their contributions to the practice, teaching, and development of IP law and was instantly reminded why the IP Section is special to me. After our IP Institute in November 2022, our Executive Committee decided to award the Larry Maxham Award to recognize and celebrate a lifetime of commitment to our IP Section, as well as a lifetime of contributions to serving clients in the field of IP law. Larry had attended our IP Institute for more than 40 years. Unfortunately, he passed away before this Institute, but I was able to present the award to his widow, Ruby. It was a touching experience for me and, I am sure, for others in the room. 

So, we end where we began, at the end of the 47th Annual IP Institute. My north star, at least as far as the IP Section is concerned, is its mission statement: “The mission of the IP Section is to foster our members’ success through the advancement of knowledge and expertise in all areas of intellectual property and technology law, policy, and practice, through educational programming, networking, interest groups, and publications.”

The Annual Institute fulfills a critical role in our mission.

There is much work to do, including planning new programs and engagement opportunities for existing and new IP Section members, developing and strengthening the connective tissue with and among the other CLA Sections, and so on. And, of course, if you would like to learn more about our Annual IP Institute or the IP Section, feel free to contact me anytime.

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