The Story Behind the Formation of the Linn Inn Alliance

By Judge Richard Linn

The year was 2008. The event that started it all was a cocktail reception for an expected group of about a dozen people, which instead was attended by more than 100. But first, a little history of what led to that milestone.

Following a gap after the formation of the first four intellectual property-focused American Inns of Court—the Giles S. Rich Inn in 1991, the John C. Lifland Inn in 1992, the San Francisco Bay Area Intellectual Property Inn in 1994, and the Benjamin Franklin Inn in 1995—renewed efforts beginning in 2006 resulted in the formation of two additional IP-focused Inns. First in Chicago in 2006 with the Richard Linn Inn and then in Los Angeles in 2008 with the Judge Paul R. Michel Intellectual Property Inn. The formation of those two Inns sparked a fire of activity within the intellectual property community that was fueled by an enthusiastic embrace among IP lawyers across the country of the goals of and the opportunities offered by the American Inns of Court.

In early 2008, momentum continued to build for growth of the American Inns of Court within the intellectual property community. To take advantage of that momentum, my friend and Georgetown law classmate, Harold “Hal” C. Wegner, and I began to look in earnest for opportunities to continue to form new Inns in cities historically recognized for generating intellectual property legal work. Olivia Luk Bedi, who was the founder of the Richard Linn Inn in Chicago and someone with a track record of having started several student and community groups in addition to the Linn Inn, joined us in these efforts.

It was at that time that the federal circuit began planning for its bi-annual judicial conference, scheduled for Thursday, May 15, 2008 in Washington, DC. Hal, Olivia, and I recognized that leading members of the federal circuit bar, including members of the six intellectual property-focused American Inns of Court then in existence, would be attending the conference. With the conference scheduled for the entire day on Thursday, we knew several participants would be arriving the night before. We thought it might be appropriate to host a small cocktail party for a dozen or so members of the existing Inns and a few other leaders from cities that might support future IP-focused Inns. To that end, we reserved the parlor of the historic Dolley Madison House, which is part of the courthouse complex occupied by the Federal Circuit.

In late April, invitations went out by email to the folks signed up for the conference who were also listed as members of the six existing IP-focused Inns. Other invitees included friends and leaders of the IP bar from New York City and Boston. Our plan was for an intimate reception to provide an opportunity for existing and possible future Inn leaders to meet, exchange ideas, and enjoy each other’s company. To give this cocktail reception the imprimatur of an “official” event, we did two things. First, we invited  David Carey, then executive director of the American Inns of Court, to join us. Second, because the event that triggered the new wave of IP American Inns of Court activity was the formation of the Linn Inn, we named the host organization “The Ad Hoc Linn Inn Alliance.”

What happened next took us completely by surprise. Shortly after our handful of email invitations went out, news of the cocktail reception began to spread. Hal, Olivia, and I began to get phone calls and emails wanting to know about the American Inns of Court, the reception, and whether invitations were available. Because the event was not publically announced anywhere, an invitation to the “secret” event became a highly valued prize to be acquired only by those truly “in the know.” The planned intimate group of a dozen or so ultimately became more than 100, and would have been more but for the limited capacity of the room.

The reception not only gave the attending leaders of the six Inns a chance to meet, it also introduced the American Inns of Court idea to prominent members of the intellectual property bar from across the country. Most importantly, it opened serious discussions with leaders of the IP bars in New York and Boston, resulting in the formation of new Inns in both of those cities in 2008 and 2009, respectively. It also strengthened the momentum for continued growth within the intellectual property community. With the success of the inaugural reception, the “ad hoc” designation was dropped and the Linn Inn Alliance was born.

What began as an ad hoc effort in 2008 to unite the then six existing intellectual property-focused American Inns of Court quickly became a central catalyst in the formation of new IP-focused Inns. It also became a vehicle for the sharing of meeting and program information, a resource for the sharing of best practices in Inn management among member Inns, and a vehicle for the enhancement of the Inns of Court experience among all of the members of the now 25 intellectual property law American Inns of Court around the country and in Tokyo.

At the inaugural reception, the Alliance announced the goal of having ten IP Inns as members of the Linn Inn Alliance by the year 2010. The Linn Inn Alliance exceeded its “10 by 2010” goal with the establishment of five new inns in the 2008–2010 period: the Hon. William C. Conner Inn in New York, New York; the Boston IP Inn in Boston, Massachusetts; the Seattle IP Inn in Seattle, Washington; the Atlanta IP Inn in Atlanta, Georgia; and the Hon. Lee Yeakel IP Inn in Austin, Texas. Not content to sit at 11, the Linn Inn Alliance continued its outreach efforts in the 2010–2011 year, resulting in the formation of five new Inns: the IP and Innovation Inn in Northern District of New York; the Colorado IP Inn in Denver, Colorado; the Honorable Barbara M.G. Lynn Inn in Dallas, Texas; the Pauline Newman IP Inn in Alexandria, Virginia; and the Thomas Jefferson IP Inn in Richmond, Virginia. In 2012, five more Inns were established: the Q. Todd Dickinson Inn in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; the Michigan IP Inn in Detroit, Michigan; the Arthur J. Gajarsa Inn in Concord, Massachusetts; the Honorable Nancy F. Atlas IP Inn in Houston, Texas; and the Tokyo IP Inn in Tokyo, Japan. From 2013–2015, four more Inns were formed: the Howard T. Markey IP Inn in Irvine, California; the Honorable Jimmie V. Reyna IP Inn in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; the Judge Janet Bond Arterton Inn in New Haven, Connecticut; and the David K. Winder IP Inn in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Linn Inn Alliance currently operates under a charter as part of the national organization. The Alliance has developed a model for the formation of new Inns based on the steps taken by Olivia Luk Bedi and the other founding members of the Richard Linn Inn. Using the resources of the American Inns of Court national office, Alliance members are kept informed of news of member Inns and are given information on meeting dates, program topics, and other items of interest. The Alliance also is actively involved in facilitating the sharing of creative program materials among member Inns. In addition, and with the realization that members regularly travel to different cities, Alliance member Inns have agreed to open meetings to all members of sister Inns. This provides members with opportunities to meet colleagues who have a shared interest in civility, ethics, and professionalism. To facilitate such visits, the American Inns of Court national office maintains on its website an interactive map displaying the cities in which member Inns are located for members to use if they would like to coordinate a planned trip with attendance at an Alliance Inn meeting. The map also provides links to meeting dates, places, times, and program topics.

The Alliance is playing an ever expanding role in bringing the American Inns of Court experience to the intellectual property community, with 25 IP-focused Inns now in existence and several more in the planning stages. The fire ignited in 2006 continues to burn brightly to the great advantage of those who practice intellectual property law and judge intellectual property cases.