|Mallun Yen kicking of the first day of the Summit|
with a run through of the year's achievements in IP and
On Wednesday, the AmeriKat was invited to speak at the Inaugural ChIPs Next Gen Summit which is dedicated to providing the next generation of women leaders in tech, law and policy with strategies and tools to help propel them in the first fifteen years of their careers on topics including profile-raising, social media and career pathways. The session was held after the pre-Summit mock exercise before members of the judiciary, government and agencies, as well as in-house executives, who provided feedback to the eager advocates. This year the mock was on the topical issue of a patent damages trial, with numerous teams facing off against each other.
After a slow Uber ride back through rush hour DC traffic to the main venue site, Megan Smith - the US Chief Technology Officer (CTO) - was bestowed with the title of 2016 ChIPs Hall of Fame honoree at the Hall of Fame dinner. After receiving her award, Megan spoke eloquently and passionately about her path from studying science to serving as a Vice President at Google leading New Business Development to her current role at the White House. Besides being in awe of Megan's professional accomplishments, the AmeriKat was struck by Megan's skill, empathy and passion for her work, public service and fixing social problems with tech. If we can deliver restaurant food to our house in 25 minutes, why can't we solve other issues? We need to bring tech solutions to social and environmental problems, urged Megan, and to do this we need to use our passion for our fields to encourage change. After her fireside conversation with Emily Hostage (RPX), the AmeriKat (like everyone else in the room), left the ballroom in awe of a truly inspirational leader that reminded us to look beyond the legal brief on our desk and to use our skills and energy in our wider community and world.
This morning the main Summit kicked off with a welcome from Mallun Yen (Executive VP of RPX and co-founder of ChIPs) running through the year's IP news from the fair use decision in Google v Oracle, the new Defend Trade Secrets Act and emergence of once dormant patent assertion entities, but she also focused on the gender and diversity issues that continue to face the tech sector (more on that later).
Fireside Chat with Nina Totenberg and Jamie Gorelick
|Noreen Krall holding her fireside chat with Nina Totenberg|
and Jamie Gorelick
Noreen asked how the social media and 24/7 hour news cycle has impacted news. Nina said that there is an appetite for instant reliable news, in depth reporting and images/sound, but no one wants to pay for it which is a real problem. Raising the importance of accurate reporting, Jamie commented that when the Affordable Care Act decision (listen to Nina's comment here) was announced by the Supreme Court, the initial reports stated that the entire law had been overturned. Jamie's husband, who is a physician, said that he did not understand the initial reports. Ten minutes later, Nina reported on NPR to explain what it really meant. Nina explained a reason for the misreporting is that reporters often grab the decision as soon as it comes out, run down the court's steps and then they start reporting, without necessarily taking the time to fully understand the decision. Nina said that this is why she goes to listen to the court announcement to pick up on the key issues.
Jamie, who has an incredible background having practised law for over 40 years including acting as a Deputy Attorney General of the US and as General Counsel at the Department of Defense, noted the changes to law firm practice are tremendous. She explained that firms are acting increasingly like businesses, outsourcing litigation work streams such as document review to low cost centers. The economics and size of private practice law is changing because the bottom of the pyramid work (i.e. discovery) can be outsourced and the real value of legal services, at the top of the pyramid with creative, strategic legal thinking, is becoming increasingly competitive. However, Jamie said she was not wringing her hands about these changes, but embracing them as the next evolution in legal practice.
Nina and Jamie also shared stories of being the first women in their respective fields, including an entertaining story from Nina about her, Cokie Roberts, Linda Wertheimer and Susan Stamberg who sat in a corner of the newsroom that the men referred to as "the fallopian jungle". She said that they did not care for/about that term, because it was her Old Girls' Club that was breaking the stories that the men weren't getting.
Federal Circuit Judge Panel
|Star studded panel of Circuit Judges|
Chief Judge Sharon Prost (US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit) shared a story about a lunch she attended a few years ago. Someone at the lunch asked Justice Kagan how she felt to be the first woman Dean of Harvard Law School and Solicitor-General. Justice Kagan responded that it was an odd question to ask because if she had not taken those jobs, it would have been someone shortly behind her that did. She said it was really women like Justice Ginsburg who paved the way so that by the time she got to the table it was not that hard. For the IP judges, Chief Judge Prost said their Justice Ginsberg was Judge Pauline Newman (also on the panel).
Judge Kimberly Moore echoed the sentiment when she said that her generation of women lawyers have far more opportunity and flexibility to shape their careers to achieve a purposeful work/life balance than previous generations. There are more opportunities but you have to plan - this is important. Judge Kara Stoll agreed explaining that at certain points in her career she had to make decisions about what path she wanted to pursue - litigation v prosecution, district v appellate work - and that required active decision making. You cannot let your career happen to you, she explained, you need to take active control and direct your career. Judge Newman said her career path was less purposeful - she went to law school because it was next door to where she lived. However, Judge Newman, when explaining her work with UNESCO in 1962, explained that your career path is not always linear - you need to take the opportunities that come to you. Judge O'Malley agreed stating that although she originally had an idea of how to plot her career path to become a federal judge, there was actually no linear career path. You have to deviate, be flexible and take chances to get to where you want to.
When asked what their core values were, the judges where unified in saying it was kindness. It is so easy, especially in the legal profession where work becomes all-consuming, to think that what you do is all important. However, it is not. You need perspective and you need kindness. Chief Judge Prost explained that a woman who worked in the Senate cafeteria who she knew over twenty years ago recently came up to her at a conference and said "hello". Chief Judge Prost was surprised the woman remembered her, but the woman replied that "of course I did, you were always so nice to me." That feedback is more important than any other success. Judge Stoll echoed the sentiment explaining that of course what we do as lawyers and patent litigators is important, but its not just what you do - it is how you do it. It does not take much to be very kind to the people around you.
The AmeriKat will be back with reports on the latest Defend Trade Secrets Act strategy, issues in copyright and the problem with dual-track systems and patent validity finality.