2022 DC DELEGATION TRIP REPORT
The 2022 DC Delegation is in the books! In the words of Hillary, it takes a village, and in mine, a fabulous team to conduct and seamlessly execute this important (and rewarding) task. Put simply, without the team, this delegation, almost three years in the making, would not have happened. As some know, this team was assembled in Fall 2019, for the Spring 2020 delegation. COVID-19 intervened, and despite considerable planning, and for obvious reasons, that delegation was cancelled. The 2021 delegation was virtual and truncated, limited mainly to federal agencies (with a nexus to IP, of course) with which we meet regularly during our typically annual visits to DC. We were determined that the 2022 delegation would be in person. Our last visit to DC was in 2019. It was time to return. Since the team was originally assembled, one member had moved overseas, but, as would be expected given the quality of the members in our Section, continued contributing to our efforts. The current
Section chair joined our team last Fall, and the former chair, who had been part of the original delegation, decided to step down, to focus on other matters.
Some additional observations, before we get to the main event, the meeting summaries. First, more than two-and-a-half years since the emergence of COVID-19, we are still muddling through a pandemic. Most of our meetings were hybrid, meaning that at least one member of the federal agency with which we were meeting, was online. This is reality, and even when this pandemic becomes an endemic (or perhaps it already has), some, if not many, will continue to work from home, for at least part of the work week. One meeting was virtual. Another meeting took place at a coffee shop, outdoors, given issues with hosting guests in the building where the agency was housed (and/or a preference, perfectly understandable, to meet outdoors). Travel is challenging, with renewed demand, insufficient supply, and so forth, although in time these issues should, if not pass, then at least become ameliorated, and regardless, on balance, do not argue against future in-person delegations. Further, there is something to be said about, as we did during one meeting, sketching out on a piece of scratch paper our understanding of how various agencies worked together on certain IP matters, and then having the agency with which we were meeting confirm or help adjust our mental image. Second, federal IP agencies are as busy as ever. The only constant is change, and you will see that below. Third, DC remains an alphabet soup (of agencies, etc.). During our visit, from June 20-23, 2022, we met with (in the following order) the USPTO, CCIPS, USCO, IP counsel for the Chair of the IP Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and OSIP, which forms part of ITA, and which in turn forms part of the Commerce Department. Before our visit, we met (virtually) with the IP Counsel for the Ranking Member of the above IP Subcommittee. Proficiency is the stepping stone to fluency, and we hope this report helps with your journey. Fourth, federal agencies coordinate with each other usually, but perhaps not always and perhaps not at a sufficient level of granularity. While we learned quite a bit from our meetings, as you will be able to see below, it cannot be said that some of the agencies did not also learn from us, given our various meetings. Last, but not least, and perhaps a note (or two) to future delegations: the sequence of these meetings matters, so organize accordingly; and identify discrete themes and issues and try to get as many perspectives on those as possible, to develop a holistic view. You will see these as you read through our report. Let’s begin.