Published in Landslide® magazine, Volume 12, Number 1, a publication of the ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law (ABA-IPL), ©2019 by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved.
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grew up in Atlanta as the only child of an aerospace engi-
neer (dad) and certied public accountant (mom), the rst in
their generation to attend college. My parents encouraged me
to pursue excellence, no matter the challenge. As an African
American dreaming of my own future accomplishments, an
early role model was Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s rst African
American mayor, an important milestone in the South.
The study of electrical engineering at Duke—with sum-
mers interning at Northern Telecom followed by law school
in Austin—started my path that led to a profession in intellec-
tual property (IP) law. These choices were part of my desire
to solve complex real-world problems for a living. During my
seventh year of practice, I decided to pursue networking and
professional opportunities beyond my local reach. It was ser-
endipity that I joined the ABA-IPL Section.
Our Section is a welcoming place where I could select
whatever I wanted to do to distinguish myself and further
my practice. ABA-IPL’s steady dedication and persistence
toward the advancement of IP law attracted and inspired me.
There were many things that kept me excited, motivated,
and connected: working with and learning from experts in
the profession; tackling big challenges and real-world issues
where I could add my voice for solutions; and beneting from
a wealth of opportunities to participate, including as author,
speaker, and continuous learner.
Joining a Section committee, where policy work often begins,
turned out to be a great way for me to invest in myself and chart
my own course. Through working on policy at the grassroots,
I became a better lawyer and a better advocate for my clients.
Although we did not know it at the time, one of our committee
members was to become a role model herself: Kimberly Moore,
now a judge at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Different views are always part of our balanced and
thoughtful process toward improving the IP system. They
sharpen how we are tenacious with weighing all sides, stay-
ing the course for critical analysis, and aiming for the best
result—even if the best choice may be to take no action at all.
When I joined the Section though, it still had a way to go
toward broad diversity in its own community. Many of the
faces I saw in those days were white males over the age of
50. There have been big changes in the Section’s diversity
since then, and changes continue at a fast pace. This wider
representation signicantly contributes to helping us solve
the important issues. I have been proud to witness and hon-
ored to contribute to many of our efforts. We have seen the
rst female chair, four others in quick succession, and the
establishment of our Diversity Plan and Diversity Action
Group (DAG). Following a 15-year successful Young Lawyer
Fellows Program, an important next step was the Section’s
creation of a young lawyer member position on our Council.
Today, not only do we have vibrant action groups for inter-
national associates, young lawyers, and law students, but
also our Women in IP (WIP) Law Action Group has over 400
members. Productive work with the Hispanic National Bar
Association, the National Asian Pacic American Bar Associ-
ation, and other external groups is in high gear.
Strength in our diversity has had direct impact on ABA-
IPL advocacy. This past June, two letters from our Section
responded to a U.S. Patent and Trademark Ofce request
for public comments on the report required by the Study of
Underrepresented Classes Chasing Engineering and Science
(SUCCESS) Act. This study concerns the goal of increasing
participation of women, minorities, and veterans in the pat-
ent system and entrepreneurial activities. A WIP task force
led the Section effort in responding, and a DAG task force
was responsible for a supplemental letter emphasizing the
importance of initial assignee data. Such dedicated work by
our diverse group of volunteers is a hallmark of our advocacy
efforts—keeping us at the forefront to ensure that the IP sys-
tem fullls its promise for the future.
The Section has taken important steps toward safeguard-
ing the future health and role of the IP system. For example,
ABA-IPL has long championed restoring patent eligibility to
its proper role. Meritorious inventions have repeatedly been
ruled patent ineligible without a proper patentability analysis,
and as a result it has become impossible to predict with any
certainty whether an invention is patent eligible. Anticipating
this problem years in advance, the ABA in its Myriad brief
on behalf of the Section cautioned the U.S. Supreme Court
against conating the threshold requirement of patent eligi-
bility and the ultimate requirement of patentability.
We have consistently advocated for efforts to modern-
ize the U.S. Copyright Ofce to keep pace with the needs
of users and twenty-rst century copyright challenges. Last
year, at the Section’s request, the ABA adopted policy urg-
ing Congress to approve appropriations to adequately staff,
maintain, modernize, and enhance its services, facilities,
databases, studies, and digital products.
In the trademark arena, ABA-IPL has worked tirelessly on
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 email@example.com.
By George W. Jordan III
Steps and Leaps
Continued on page 60