7 Questions with Todd Dickinson


Recently, I published a three-part series that took an inside look at the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA).  See Behind the Scenes at the AIPLA. After my day inside the AIPLA, I sat down with AIPLA Executive Director Todd Dickinson for an interview.  See Part 1 and Part 2.

What follows is part of my conversation with Todd Dickinson….highlights, if you will.

Dickinson on AIPLA Amicus Briefs:

“Since I’ve been here, our amicus briefs have been cited from the bench of the Supreme Court twice.  And  CAFC judges have said  that our briefs are often helpful or important in shaping  their eventual opinions.  And that’s how we see ourselves, what we’ve committed to.  It’s not that we have all the answers; to the contrary, we feel that we take a balanced and measured approach that helps lead policy formation and implementation.”

Dickinson on First-to-File In-fighting at AIPLA:

“The First Inventor to File was a tough policy call, shifted  views for a lot of people over time.  It’s been a mainstay of our position for a long time, however, but there are plenty of members for whom there was a lot of concern about it.  Did we lose a few members over it?  Sure, we did.  But by and large I think our members understand that it is a consensus view that gets developed, it is for the best of the system, it is  a globalized view, but  is also a best practice, frankly, and we needed to move towards harmonization.”

Dickinson on the Uncertainty of the AIA:

“There are still aspects of the statute that people will say, oh, what about this, what about that?  And so we’re still working through that.  And don’t forget, many of these things will need to be worked out in the courts.  Not everything gets answered, that’s the way our system is set up.  Congress doesn’t answer every single question. The rules don’t answer every single question.  There will be situations in which the courts have to figure out on the statutory construction or rule interpretation, and that’s yet to come.    That’s the way our system’s set up and I think everybody understands that.”

Dickinson on “Key” AIA questions:

“Two  of the big key questions I raised at the USPTO roundtable were what constitutes the parameters of the grace period implications and what constitutes ‘on sale’ for purposes of the new 102.”

Dickinson on the “Biggest” Issue Facing the Patent System:

“I think one of the biggest issues, and where we should be focusing, is on international harmonization, which fortunately is where Director Kappos seems to be focusing a lot of his attention.  I think the time is ripe, and I think we as an organization are very pleased that he’s put that back on the table so aggressively.  I think in many ways it’s a legacy issue for this generation of leaders.”

Dickinson on Patent Eligible Subject Matter:

“I’m a little surprised by the real strong focus that’s been placed on 101 issues, patent eligibility issues. It is, in many ways, cyclical, however.  Twenty years ago when I first was getting involved with policy issues, the big question was whether living organisms were patentable as a policy matter.  Should bacteria, even if they were genetically modified by people, be patentable subject matter.  That question is really gone from the table.  The generation before that, should atomic energy, should nuclear weapons be patentable subject matter, that sort of thing.  And we go through these waves of discussion about it, what’s interesting  is that several of the debates are connected strongly to the most important technologies that we’re working on at the moment.  Biotech genetics, software and IT, and the  Supreme Court’s great challenge if they want to stay in that area, is to make sure that they are mindful of the bigger picture implications of what those kind of decisions might lead to.”

Dickinson on the Next Big Issue for the Federal Circuit:

“I think a potentially  next big question is likely going to be along the lines of Cyborg, the standard under which the CAFC reviews district court cases. I think it’s an important and pragmatic and practical question that may likely be reviewed which would have significant implications.”


Leave a Reply

You share in the PLI Practice Center community, so we just ask that you keep things civil. Leave out the personal attacks. Do not use profanity, ethnic or racial slurs, or take shots at anyone's sexual orientation or religion. If you can't be nice, we reserve the right to remove your material and ban users who violate our Terms of Service.

You must be logged in to post a comment.