Robert A. Armitage, 2019 Mark T. Banner Award Honoree

AuthorShannon N. Proctor
PositionShannon N. Proctor is an associate with Keller and Heckman LLP in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at
©2019. Published in Landslide®, Vol. 11, No. 6, July/August 2019, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in
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Section Focus
Mark T. Banner
Robert A. Armitage, 2019 Mark T. Banner Award Honoree
A Conversation with Shannon N. Proctor
The ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law’s Mark T. Banner Award is presented to an individual or individuals who have made
an impact on intellectual property (IP) law and/or practice. Winners of this award have expressed a clear passion and enthusi-
asm for, and advanced the practice, profession, and/or substance of, IP law through extraordinary contributions to, among other
things, teaching, scholarship, innovation, legislation, advocacy, bar or other association activities, or the judiciary. For more informa-
tion on the award and past honorees, visit
AIPLA, and Intellectual Property Own-
ers Association, among others, shaped
the consensus that produced the Amer-
ica Invents Act—the most signicant
change in U.S. patent law since 1836.
In addition to his numerous awards
for his contributions in IP law, he was
inducted into the National Center for State
Courts’ Warren E. Burger Society in recog-
nition of his contribution to its mission to
advance the administration of justice.
Bob Armitage received his JD from the
University of Michigan Law School and
has a BA degree in physics and mathe-
matics and an MS degree in physics.
Bob, congratulations on receiving the
2019 Mark T. Banner Award!
Thank you. I was enormously pleased
and honored to learn I had received this
honor. My rst thoughts were about
Mark Banner himself. He was a won-
derful human being. He had an outsized
sense of humor, had a splendid record of
leadership in the IP bar, and was a gifted
advocate. As I reect on Mark—and
others who have received this recogni-
tion carrying his name—I have come to
realize just how much this award carries
with it a special responsibility to act in
ways that are worthy of it.
What led you to a profession in IP law?
I wish there were a better word to
explain my IP law career than seren-
dipity. As I approached law school
graduation, I was looking for jobs both
inside and outside the IP eld, and was
looking at positions both at law rms
and as in-house counsel. I had had only
a very limited exposure to IP law during
law school. In addition, my under-
graduate and graduate degrees were in
physics, and not engineering, so nding
a position in patent law in those pre-
Federal Circuit days was not a given.
To make matters worse, I completed
law school a semester early by tak-
ing coursework over both my 1L and
2L summers. This was a truly bad idea
because it meant looking for permanent
positions with no clerking experiences of
any kind to help guide a career choice.
What ultimately got me into the patent
profession was a job offer for a patent
trainee position in Kalamazoo, Michi-
gan. Kalamazoo was and is a wonderful
Midwestern community. The offer pre-
sented the opportunity to work at the
global headquarters for The Upjohn
Company, a large, multinational pharma-
ceutical company. It seemed like a great
venue in which to see if patent law might
Robert (Bob) A. Armitage is a consul-
tant on IP strategy and policy issues
and a member of the board of directors
for the American Intellectual Property
Law Education Foundation.
Bob Armitage completed a decade
of service as Senior Vice President
and General Counsel for Eli Lilly and
Company in 2012. Prior to joining
Lilly, he spent six years as a partner
in the Washington, D.C., ofce of Vin-
son & Elkins LLP (V&E) and 10 years
as chief intellectual property counsel
for The Upjohn Company. He has held
numerous leadership positions in the
IP bar, including as chair of the ABA
Section of Intellectual Property Law
(ABA-IPL). He served as president of
both the American Intellectual Property
Law Association (AIPLA) and the Asso-
ciation of Corporate Patent Counsel.
From 2009 to 2014, he was a member
of the Advisory Committee on Inter-
national Economic Policy to the U.S.
Department of State.
Bob Armitage has worked tirelessly
over decades to improve the patent law
system of the United States, includ-
ing writing and speaking extensively
to support patent reform. His lead-
ing efforts with the ABA-IPL Section,

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