The History of IPLAC
The Nation's Oldest IP Bar Association
This synopsis presents a selective history of the Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago. It aims to honor the Association’s traditions, recognize its historical commitments, and highlight events of significance and interest to the general membership and the public.
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In 1884, the Association's founding members declared their original purpose to be:
Such an Association, rightly conducted, would add to the dignity and reputation of this branch of the legal profession; would be instrumental in promoting the interests of its individual members, and the professional and social relations which exist, or should exist, between them; in aiding reforms in the administration of the Patent Office; in assisting to make more definite, uniform and convenient the rules of practice in the courts in taking associate action to prevent unwise amendments to the patent law; in discussing such other matters hereafter to arise as may be of common interest . . .
The original name was "The Patent Law Association." "Chicago" did not become part of the name until forty years later, apparently evolving as a matter of usage, if not necessity, long before the name changed formally. As early as 1897, in a letter of January 23rd to the Honorable William B. McKinley, President-Elect of the United States, the Association identified itself variously as "The Patent Law Association of Chicago" and as "The Patent Law Association of Chicago and the Northwest."
The tradition of the Association's annual dinner to honor the Federal Judiciary was instituted in 1884. The meeting of March 20, 1895 was held at the Union League Club "with thirty-seven members present and the President in the chair." The minutes of the meeting explain:
This meeting was in the nature of a reception to the Federal Judiciary of the Seventh Circuit, and there were present as guests Circuit Judges Woods, Jenkins and Showalter, District Judge Grosscup, ex-District Judge Blodgett, Mr. Oliver T. Morton, Clerk of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and Mr. S.W. Burnham, Clerk of the Circuit Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Letters of regret were read from Justice Harlan and from Judges Seaman, Bunn and Baker. The members present were: Messrs. Elliot, Sheridan, Pickard, R.H. Parkinson, C.A. Brown, Gridley, Bond, L.M. Hopkins, Darby, Parker, Linthicum, F.A. Hopkins, Rector, Pierce, Jones, Thomas A. Banning, Jackson, Dayton, P.C. Dyrenforth, Barton, Chamberlin, Hill, Gerlach, F.T. Brown, W.H. Dyrenforth, Poole, Fisher, Omohundro, Julius Dyrenforth, Waldo, Whipple, Adcock, Raymond, Offield, Thacher, Hibben, Towle.
Mr. Lysander Hill spoke on "The Patent Expert."
C.C. Linthicum spoke on "The Evil Effect of Conflicting Decisions in Patent Cases."
Judges Blodgett, Woods, Jenkins, Showalter and Grosscup addressed the Association.
The Journal and Proceedings of the Association provides some interesting insights into the issues facing the courts of the Seventh Circuit and earlier Association members at the turn of the century. The Annual Report of the Association President Charles C. Linthicum, given October 6, 1900, comments as follows:
With the growth of manufacturers here in the West and the division and subdivision of the arts, there have been presented to our attention, and through us to the courts, inventions for tools, machine attachments and manipulative processes unfamiliar or at least infrequent twenty years ago. These conditions, long prevalent in the East, have heretofore caused the courts of that section to give more liberal consideration to the minor inventions that has obtained with us. The result has been that a great deal of patent business naturally belonging to this Circuit has gone elsewhere. We are pleased to note a growing tendency toward greater liberation in our midst and indulge in the hope that the Seventh Circuit will not be discriminated against in the future distribution of business.
Mr. Linthicum's remarks are seemingly linked to the same event which evoke the following commentary in a paper by member L. K. Gillson on June 6 of the same year.
People who chanced to be in the Monadnock or Marquette buildings on a recent day saw men running from office to office, or meeting in the corridors, exchange a few hasty words and hurry on, hair disheveled, faces aglow with the intensest excitement, their veins standing out like the welts from a blacksnake whip. "Who are these men?" asks one onlooker "and what remarkable and unusual thing excites them - it will be a wonder if some of them are not stricken with apoplexy." "Oh," he is answered, "these are patent lawyers dazed with the news that the Court of Appeals of the Seventh Circuit has just sustained a patent."
We are further informed by the Proceedings of the Association that, on June 10, 1887, the Hon. John M. Harlan, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and Circuit Court Justice for the Seventh Circuit, "favored the Association with an informal address, in the course of which he suggested whether a court of last resort in patent matters might not be advantageously established in Washington, such a court to have appellate jurisdiction from the United States Circuit Courts and also from the Patent Office." Ninety-five years later, the Court envisioned by Justice Harlan became a reality.
IPLAC wishes to thank our most complete and reliable source of early information on the Association, Francis A. Even.