2014 Microsoft/HNBA Intellectual Property Law Institute
“The world admires those who know what they are doing. People will part ways for those who know exactly where they are going.” – Judge Reyna
The Microsoft HNBA Intellectual Property Law Institute was created for the purpose of encouraging a stronger interest from and promoting opportunities for Latino and Hispanic students and their careers in Intellectual Property Law. The IP Law Institute stands as an immersion program giving 25 participants substantive instruction, visits and observations of U.S. Intellectual Property Law institutions, and networking opportunities with prominent figures in the IP legal community who serve as mentors for the IP Law Institute participants.
Needless to say, this was an overwhelming yet incredibly instrumental experience in my IP career, and I am forever grateful to my mentors at both Microsoft and HNBA for making the opportunity possible. While focused primarily on the Hispanic and Latino student body, the program is open to all qualified applicants, and I strongly encourage all students to apply in the coming years. The educational knowledge you gain and the connections you make will serve as a platform for success, and open doors for every student’s future
MONDAY, JUNE 2ND
Touching history, we traveled to the National Archives where we viewed recordation of the first U.S. patents. However, the star of the show was the opportunity to see the original Constitution, the page flipped perfectly to Article I, section 8. The history of IP Law in the U.S. and the impact it had on early American advancement is often ignored. For us IP geeks, the ability to view the constitutional provision that paved the way for acknowledgment of IP rights in the U.S. was a once in a lifetime experience. It set the perfect tone for the beginning of the week.
After spending several hours at the Federal Trade Commission discussing the standards of essential patents and the FRAD commitment, patent assertion entities (PAEs), and pay for delay, we ended our day with a beautiful three-course meal at Occidental Grill. The walls of the restaurant were appropriately decorated with portraits of every past president, congressional member, and influential member of the senate. Somehow, everywhere you go in DC, you feel as though you are a part of history, standing where some of the most prominent figures in America have once passed.
The first day closed with words from Don Dunner, one of the words leading experts on patents. With arguably the most impressive resume in the field of IP law, the room went silent, every program participant mesmerized and consumed in his stories and advice. While intimidatingly brilliant, Mr. Dunner couldn’t help himself but to end with a laugh, commenting, “I will let you all get to your desserts… Well, I guess I really am your dessert.”
Following the close of dinner, Anthony Zeuli from Merchant & Gould’s Litigation practice group, graciously invited us to the W Hotel to kick off the week with bottle service and a stunning view of the White House. If there’s one thing I learned, D.C. is not for the faint of heart. Although the city is consumed with ‘suits’ and strong work ethic, everyone seems to follow the concept of “work hard, play hard.” Thank you Mr. Zeuli for a wonderful night, and leaving us all slightly hung-over for our second day of the program.
TUESDAY, JUNE 3RD
The day commenced with breakfast and opening comments from George Pappas, an incredibly talented trial attorney in the realm patent litigation. Mr. Pappas gave us a valuable life lesson, brilliantly commenting,
“Your career is like a glass of water. For years you add drops of water one by one until the glass is half full and you are ready to step into the working world. With one drop of red dye, the entire glass becomes murky and tainted. No matter how many drops of water you add thereafter, the glass will never be as crystal clear as it once was. Your reputation is that water. Never taint it with a drop of dye. A thousand rights are easily undone with a single wrong. And a thousand rights can never undo that single wrong.”
Little did he know that we would experience an attorney do exactly that in the coming hours. Upon arrival to the Court of Appeals for the Federal
Circuit, we all sat down in the courtroom to hear oral arguments on a Patent Case. The attorney representing the Patent Office approached the bench both nervous and insecure. Withstanding merely 5 minutes of constant pressure and interjecting comments from the 3-panel judge, frustration subsumed the junior attorney, and she quickly embodied a disrespectful and aggressive tone. Yes, within 5 minutes, this woman’s career was a solid red glass of water.
Although uncomfortable to watch, as this poor attorney was eaten alive like a baby elephant amongst a herd of lions, it was an important lesson and application of Mr. Pappas advice. I am confident in saying that every one of us students will remember this horrifying display for the rest of our careers.
The true highlight of the day was our time with Judge Reyna. He invited us to his chambers and thereafter, hosted a beautiful reception at the Dolley Madison House. As inspirational as people come, Judge Reyna lectured on a path to success and gifted us with advice that I will never forget,
“The world admires those who know what they are doing. People will part ways for those who know exactly where they are going.”
Although we are law students, starting now, it is important to have direction. Even though our goals may change with age, we must always maintain the confidence that will give people the motivation to help us achieve our dreams. This was an important lesson to learn, and thank you Judge Reyna for sharing your experience.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4TH AND THURSDAY, JUNE 5TH
Focusing my career on Copyright and Trademark Law, the next two days were particularly exciting. We traveled to the ITC where we attended lectures from directors, judges and advisory attorneys; the Copyright Office where I was able to ask representative, Kevin Amer and Erik Bertin, questions on international policy and the resale royalty act; the White House where we received briefing from Obama’s international IP affairs attorney on patent trolling; and the USPTO where we received a variety of lectures on emerging IP issues.
Most memorable was our morning lecture from Ian Fried from DME (previously employed by Paramount) and Troy Dow from Disney, on digital TV and film distribution. Having a particular love for the entertainment market, I was eager to ask questions on film financing, and the effect the digital trend has on the creative flexibility of studios in regards to portfolio strategies. Hearing a response directly from studio representatives was incredibly helpful and informative as well as applicable to my practice at work.
FRIDAY, JUNE 6TH
The final day was both exciting and somber. We traveled to Rayburn House Office Building for a congressional briefing on IP policy, and later returned to George Washington for our lunch speakers – Professor Contreras and Hector Gellegos – on the topics of trade secrets, patent litigation, technical standards and patent trolls.
We finished the day with a trip to the Microsoft D.C. offices where we attended closing lectures from Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft Corporate VP and Deputy General Counsel, one of the men that made this whole program possible. We ended the evening with a beautiful Microsoft Hosted Reception and presentation of certificates, overlooking the city atop the Microsoft facilities. It truly was the perfect way to end.
Although the trip was primarily based on educational lectures and visits to government agencies, every night provided an opportunity for networking. We dined at modern restaurants, danced at salsa joints, and lounged upon rooftops with our mentors until the wee hours of the morning. The ability to interact with these brilliant minds in a casual environment was the cherry atop a perfect trip.
Thank you to everyone at Microsoft and HNBA, especially Mick Konowal, Catherine Romero, and Miguel Pozo for making this entire experience possible. The program was invaluable and will carry with us throughout our lives and Intellectual Property careers. Hopefully in 10 years, we can attend the program as mentors, and have the opportunity to pay forward the experiences we were all so fortunate to have this past week.
Note: If you have any questions or want additional information on the program and its application process, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.