The Donald R. Dunner Intellectual Property Law Endowment Program

Co-sponsored by:

American Intellectual Property Law Association logo
Federal Circuit Bar Association logo
Finnegan logo
American Bar Association Intellectual Property Law Section logo
Don Dunner conversing with colleagues

In 2019, the patent world lost a true giant and friend, Donald Dunner. Don (as he was known to everyone) quite literally helped create the patent law practice we know today, particularly the discipline of Federal Circuit patent appellate practice. In recognition of his outstanding legacy, GW Law and Don’s law firm, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner (Finnegan), the American Bar Association (ABA), the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), the Federal Circuit Bar Association (FCBA), , are partnering to create "The Donald R. Dunner Endowed Memorial Lectureship".

This endowed Lectureship will be funded at $250,000; the corpus of which will never be touched, but its earnings will allow the Lecture to continue annually and in perpetuity. To start the Lecture this year in 2024, we will raise additional current use gifts that will be used to fund the Lecture for its first five years before the endowment is fully funded. After those five years, no further funding is expected to be needed, and the endowment will fund the Lectureship in perpetuity.

Virtually everyone who practices patent law today in the United States owes a debt of gratitude to Don. That is why the intellectual property law community—represented by GW Law and Finnegan in conjunction with the leaders of the ABA, AIPLA, FCBA —, seeks to honor Don with the creation of this Lectureship in his name. This endowed annual event will honor Don’s legacy with renowned speakers in the field of patent law. Should we receive sufficient pledge commitments, the Lectureship will launch in fall 2024.

Don Dunner smiling with a colleague
Don Dunner speaking

A pioneer in the field, Don was intimately involved in shaping the legislation that created the Federal Circuit, and he served as Chair of the Court’s Advisory Counsel for the first 10 years of its existence. Don was also the author of the leading treatise Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit: Practice and Procedure, which he used to teach his course at GW Law over five decades. The Federal Circuit, of course, has exclusive jurisdiction over all patent appeals in the United States. Don argued more appeals before that court—175—than any other lawyer in its history. It is fair to say that arguably no one knew patent law, patent appellate practice, and the Federal Circuit like Don Dunner.

Don was also a leader in the overall intellectual property law community. He served as President of the AIPLA, the American Patent Law Association, Chair of the ABA’s Section of Intellectual Property Law, member of the ABA House of Delegates, member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, organizer of the FCBA, and member of the Federal Circuit Historical Society. Those on the steering committee for this project all agree that if there were the equivalent of a Mount Rushmore for patent law, Don would be on it.

Don Dunner
Don Dunner

“Don Dunner made the patent law profession better for all of us.”

John M. Whealan
Associate Dean for Intellectual Property Law

The endowed Lectureship will be housed by and hosted at GW Law. Don taught at GW Law for nearly 50 years and served on GW Law’s Intellectual Property and Technology Law Advisory Council. Thus, GW Law was the preferred location for his remembrance. As such, GW Law is honored to assist with the endowment process and host this annual event. In addition, the Dunner family has been regularly consulted and is fully supportive of this project.

Don’s firm, Finnegan, has generously committed to be the lead donor. The remainder of the endowment will be funded by gifts from leaders of the IP community, including former partners at his firm and former leaders of its IP bar associations. Anyone can donate, including his clients, his colleagues in the profession, friends, and the hundreds of people he taught.

Gifts to the endowment may be paid over a five-year period through a variety of vehicles (e.g., cash, securities, privately held stock, IRA distributions, donor-advised funds, etc.).  GW is a 501(c) (3) tax-exempt organization.

Given the number of people Don touched, and given how much he improved the profession, our expectations are that we may exceed the minimum total gift necessary of $250,0000. If and when that happens, the steering committee, in consultation with the Dunner family, will decide how best to fund additional endowments to honor Don (e.g, an IP scholarship).

Please join in us this opportunity to honor the life and legacy of our colleague, mentor, and friend, Donald Dunner.

If you would like to contribute to the Donald R. Dunner Endowed Lectureship, please contact Bruce Martin in the GW Law Office of Development and Alumni Relations at 202.994.0841 or [email protected].

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