The San Francisco Bay Area
American Inn of Court
The idea of a San Francisco Bay Area Inn devoted to intellectual property arose from discussions in early 1994 between Neil Smith, Richard Sangster, and Robert Morrill. Neil had served as a law clerk to Judge Giles S. Rich and became involved with the American Inns of Court by attending meetings of the then-newly formed Rich Inn with Judge Rich when visiting Washington. Dick was a member of another Inn and an enthusiastic promoter of the Inns of Court mission. Bob enlisted a number of Bay Area IP lawyers to join them to explore the idea of a new Inn devoted to IP law, along the lines of the Rich Inn, including Paul Vapnek, Henry Bunsow, Mel Owen, William Herbert, and Marty Fliesler. In the fall of 1994, they obtained a charter for the San Francisco Bay Area Intellectual Property American Inn of Court and enrolled enough members to begin regular meetings of the new Inn. Bob Morrill served as the Inn’s first president.
Our Inn enlisted Chief Judge Vaughn Walker and Judge Ron Whyte, in the San Francisco and San Jose Courthouses, to anchor the Inn on the north and south ends of the Bay Area. Magistrate Judge Bernie Zimmerman was then and remains a long-time supporter of the Inn and has helped encourage other judges to participate and lead programs throughout the years. And with the opening of the Silicon Valley USPTO regional office, we have welcomed PTAB judges to our Inn. We are forever grateful for the participation and guidance of our local judiciary.
Our Inn prefers an active participation, learn-while-you-do-it approach, eschewing the lecture format. This is the greatest value of the Inn, particularly for young lawyers, who in our era of high-dollar IP cases, don’t get to stand in front of the bench in a courthouse very often. Our senior members work hard as mentors to our more junior members.Our members come from all walks of life and cover all aspects of IP. Our members include in-house counsel, private practitioners from all sizes of firms, patent examiners, academics, law students, and judges. Our members focus on patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, right of publicity, privacy, and more.
We invite members of other Inns and prospective members to join us at one of our nine monthly meetings, usually starting at 6:00 pm on the third Wednesday of the month, between September and June. We are honored to be one of the largest Inns in the nation, and welcome all intellectual property professionals and law students to join.