ABA-IPL at 125 Years: Celebrating Exhilarating Accomplishments in IP

AuthorGeorge W. Jordan III
Published in Landslide® magazine, Volume 12, Number 4, a publication of the ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law (ABA-IPL), ©2020 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.
This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.
This year, the ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law
(ABA-IPL) is proud to commemorate 125 years—
marking a momentous time in its history and that of
intellectual property (IP) law itself.
Created in August 1894 at the 17th ABA Annual Meet-
ing in Saratoga Springs, New York, our Section, then called
the Section of Patent Law, became the rst substantive sec-
tion of the American Bar Association. The Section gained an
early start in forging its individual identity within the ABA.
By the 1920s, we were addressing trademark and copyright
as the Section of Patent, Trademark and Copyright Law, and
we became the Section of Intellectual Property Law in 1993.
Back in the beginning—just like we hear today—patent law
was considered a “difcult but fascinating” area.1
Our rst Section chair was Edmund Wetmore, who was
considered “one of the ablest and most efcient of patent
lawyers.”2 Wetmore is known for representing Westinghouse
Electric in its incandescent lamp litigation, Henry Ford in
automobile litigation, and the Wright brothers in litigation
over the Wright ying machine.3 His professional association
standing was undeniable: he later served as president of the
American Bar Association (1900–1901) and as president of
the New York City Bar Association (1908–1909).4
We can truly marvel at the extraordinary achievements,
steadfast contributions, and exemplary moments in the his-
tory of IP law that also built our own Section’s foundation
and its continuing strength. Over these 125 years, the Sec-
tion and the profession have faced anti-patent and other times
of IP law disarray as we also addressed a wide range of other
matters. We have been at the profession’s forefront in advo-
cating and advancing IP matters of vital interest, including
the Lanham Act, Patent Act of 1952, Copyright Act of 1976,
Federal Circuit creation, America Invents Act, and Defend
Trade Secrets Act of 2016—just to name a few.
Beyond advancing new IP laws through adoption, we
engaged in multiyear efforts to modernize those laws. Work-
ing within the strength of the ABA we assumed a major
active role in the development of a fair and balanced system
for IP law protection. Our work in developing ABA policy at
the ABA House of Delegates on highly important IP issues
was often instrumental. Time and again we made an impact-
ful difference in advancing the standards of the IP profession
and in the diligent service of its community.
More than 100 Section chairs have led generations of
ABA-IPL members in addressing matters of great inter-
est and concern in IP law. Legendary predecessors have
paved the way for our work today, and young bright stars are
already in place to work on unchartered territory and future
challenges. The Section continues to be home to the best and
brightest—both the vanguards of the profession and its future
titans. Patent eligibility, copyright modernization, trademark
reform, privacy, and articial intelligence are only some of
the areas we will work on together.
As we are about to gather for a special commemorative
event at the Mayower Hotel in Washington, D.C., during
the ABA-IPL Section Annual Meeting, we are grateful to
our community of members and to all our constituents. Your
devotion of time and talent has established a lasting legacy
and a great promise for the future. n
1. 43 R   A M   A B
A 380 (1918).
2. Id. at 381.
3. Id.
4. Id. at 382.
George W. Jordan III is chair of the ABA Section of Intellectual
Property Law. As senior counsel at Norton Rose Fulbright in Houston,
Texas, he specializes in patent litigation and investigations with an
emphasis on wireless, mobile, and e-commerce technologies, as well as
licensing and due diligence in all areas of intellectual property law. He
can be reached at george.jordan@nortonrosefulbright.com.
By George W. Jordan III
ABA-IPL at 125 Years: Celebrating Exhilarating
Accomplishments in IP

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