Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : November 2006

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MSBA Creates Intellectual Property Committee

Today, everything from copyrights, patents, trademarks, inventions, artistic and literary works and licensing to trade secrets, fair use, protection/security, ownership and public domain falls into the Intellectual Property (IP) law practice arena. Our high-tech world continues to grow more sophisticated and as the number of high-tech businesses escalates in Maryland, so does the number of clients with complex legal needs involving the use, protection and creation of IP rights.

The term IP “reflects the idea that certain kinds of protectable matter may be thought of as being created solely by one’s intellectual or mental endeavors,” explains Larry J. Guffey, Chair of MSBA’s new IP Committee. “It consists of those inventions, published works and product or service identifying marks that meet certain criteria such that one’s ownership rights (e.g., exclusive right to use) in them are protected, respectively, by government granted or registered patents, copyrights or trademarks.”

Intellectual Property is increasingly a popular area of law practice, and as it expands, so does the demand for skilled practitioners. “Maryland’s high-technology businesses typically have a larger percentage of their assets in the form of IP which needs to be protected,” adds Guffey. “This creates a larger workload for Maryland’s IP attorneys.”

To better serve the increasing number of MSBA attorneys engaging in Intellectual Property, the Association recently created a new Intellectual Property Organizing Committee (IPC). MSBA’s new Committee will cater to the unique needs of IP practitioners, offering support services to help them meet the growing demands of their IP clients.

MSBA’s Business Law Section has had an IP Committee within its structure for years. However, the increasing number of IP Association members prompted MSBA to explore the creation of a separate IP Committee that could eventually grow into an IP Section. This new MSBA entity is already 90 attorneys strong.

“Over the last few years, more MSBA members have requested an IP Section than any other substantive area,” reports Paul V. Carlin, MSBA Executive Director. “The creation of an IP Section will allow for more member participation, more CLE programming at our meetings and more visibility in this area. This is an opportunity to deliver greater service to a greater number of members.”

As envisioned, IPC will foster collaborative discussions, offer networking opportunities and promote interaction among practitioners to enhance their quality of client service. It will work with MICPEL to present timely IP CLE programs, equip practitioners with relevant practice skills and forge partnerships with regional, national and international IP legal groups. Much of IPC’s work will be handled through its four subcommittees: Program; Communications; Publications; and Membership.

IPC’s focus will include “organizational and service goals.” Its plans include everything from luncheon programs, a dynamic website with a communication portal, an e-newsletter and articles in the Bar Bulletin to MICPEL programs, short webinars and involvement in MSBA’s Speakers Bureau.

One of the Committee’s top priorities is to recommend the establishment of an IP Section to MSBA’s Board of Governors in the spring of 2007, then to the Association’s membership at MSBA’s Annual Meeting in June 2007. “To meet our organizational goal, we are currently soliciting MSBA attorneys to join our IPC and participate in our planned activities,” adds Guffey. By joining, IP attorneys will help the Committee demonstrate the level of membership support warranted for a MSBA IP Section.

“MSBA is using the same approach to create this new IP Section as it has done recently in successfully launching the new Consumer Bankruptcy and Animal Law Sections,” explains Carlin. “After a year of organizing the communication, education and leadership functions, a Section can be approved once the threshold of 100 interested members is reached.”

“We hope to soon have a link on MSBA’s website, www.msba.org,” adds Guffey, “so prospective members can register online to join IPC.” Members interested in joining MSBA’s new Intellectual Property Committee should contact De'Anne Roye.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: November 2006

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