Why I Quit the AIPLA (American Intellectual Property Law Association)

I received a survey from AIPLA asking my opinion of the organization, but clearly the designers of the survey were not interest in real feedback.  As a result, I will provide it in this blog post.  The AIPLA for patent attorneys has become what the AMA (American Medical Association) is for doctors or what the ABA has become for lawyers.  At one time, the ABA was a well respected organization that focused on attorney education and important legal issues, but then it became leftist lobbying organization and attorneys have been leaving it in droves.  At one time almost every M.D. joined the AMA, but its left wing push, including supporting Obamacare, have caused its membership to decline drastically.  I predict something similar for the AIPLA.

The AIPLA has become nothing more than a lobbying organization for large multinationals and foreign interests.  When I started as a patent attorney in 1993, the AIPLA was the premier professional organization for IP attorneys.  Since I joined, the AIPLA has championed the subversion of US patent law in the form of supporting the American Inventor’s Protection Act of 1999, which requires[1] the publication of patent applications 18 months after they are filed.  The AIPLA did not push for the real solution to the problem of patents issuing years after they were filed, which was to fully fund the Patent Office and demand they examine and issue patents in well under 18 months.  Edison’s patent on the light bulb issued in three months.  Publication is in direct opposition to the defining theory of patents – the social contract, which states that the inventor receives a property right in their invention in return for disclosing their invention (trade secret).  Publication destroys the quid pro quo of patents.  The public/government gets the benefit of disclosure even if the inventor believes the Patent Office has not made a fair deal.

The publication rule was pushed by foreign countries, foreign companies, and large multinationals.  The result of this law has been to double the pendency time for patents.  This has become nothing more than a way to steal American Technology, particularly from our most creative inventors – small companies and independent inventors.  It is no wonder that the US economy was  in a slow decline from 2000 to 2008 and since then has been mired in a depression.

Then the AIPLA decided to actively push the America Inventors Act of 2011.  This is an incredibly corrupt piece of legislation laden with special interest goodies and is un-Constitutional.  The special interest goodies included a special provision for Wall Street that the Data Treasury patent is effectively invalid, a special rule for the law firm Wilmer Hale and The Medicines Company that extended the length of their patent and avoided a huge malpractice suit, a special rule for patents on financial products and services – another Wall Street give away.  Judge Michel, former head of the CAFC, had this to say about the AIA

 Fatal defects of the legislation includes section 18 (business method patent – Wall Street giveaway), section 14 (no patents on tax strategies), parts of section 5 (prior commercial use – trade secret protection system), parts of section 6 (post grant review).

Judge Michel also pointed out that the AIA does not solve the fee diversion issue which was its main selling point.  If the AIPLA was not pushing an agenda for large corporations, Foreign companies and countries, you would never expect to see so a large split between it and one of the leading judges of patent law.  But in its infinite wisdom the AIPLA decided to push forward with this pork barrel legislation.

As if this is not enough, the AIA’s first to file rule and its fee setting authority are un-Constitutional.  See One Year Anniversary of Patent Reform: Two Reasons Why it is Un-Constitutional.  The AIPLA has become a lobbying organization that hides its true agenda, while putting forward a different public relations face, just like the ABA and the AMA.  I predict the AIPLA will go the same way as these organizations – declining membership, declining revenue, and disgust by patent attorneys and the general public.


[1] It did not require publication of all patent applications, but does require this if you are going to foreign file and made it difficult to change your mind after filing.  This was clearly the first step requiring publication of all patent applications.