Last week, we fled the stormy rains of the Bay Area for the sunshine and networking opportunities in sunny Southern California, courtesy of the Licensing Executive Society’s (LES) Winter Meeting and The Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM) Annual Meeting. They took place back to back at the Anaheim Marriott, from which you can the Disneyland firework show every night.
The week started with LES. It was our first time sponsoring an LES event and we were excited to see such a good turnout. The opening keynote kicked things off with the modern day David and Goliath tale of how small tech company i4i successfully defended itself against Microsoft. Another highlight included the closing luncheon group workshops and impossibly challenging history of IP quiz with stumpers like when was patent #1 granted (not to be confused with the first patent. Hint – the USPTO only began numbering patents years after the first was granted). Lastly the fireside chat with NASA’s chief technologist Mason Peck was terrific, a great bridge of joint programming with AUTM.
The AUTM conference brought a change of pace and scale – a huge turnout of over 1,700 attendees from around the world. What an assembly of innovators and facilitators of innovation in one place.
The opening roundtable discussion was another big highlight; headed by the Associate GC of Microsoft, Francis Gurry, Director General of the World Intellectual Property Office, and David Kappos, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office it was a fascinating discussion. We also enjoyed the many sessions that focused on how start-ups and spin-offs should approach IP.
Wrapping things up was Hugh Hefner’s daughter Christie Hefner, the former president of Playboy.With a depth of experience in branding and trademark business, she spoke on building relationships as part of her “Brand to Icon” session. Finally, the end of the week saw the end of AUTM and the arrival of thousands donning costumes and strapping on simulated weaponry for the start of the WonderCon conference, one of the country's biggest comics and pop culture conventions. Just about the right time for us to leave!
We met lots of great people and really enjoyed talking with everyone, whether they were consultants, tech transfer managers, or counsel from large or small firms. We even had the opportunity to sneak in a quick Disneyland outing with Gavin Stewart, publisher with The IP Media Group and all-around good lad who resides in London. The wide variety of people attending this kind of event provides a broad perspective on the range of issues, concerns and priorities in the IP management world.