At 7:30, Friday evening, October 22, 2010, many of those who had attended the AIPLA Annual Meeting had gathered outside of the ballroom where a black tie preferred dinner was to be served. It was a very well attended event, I would venture to guess maybe 300 or so. Many of the top names in intellectual property were in attendance including David Kappos, Chief Judge Randall Rader, Q. Todd Dickinson and Chief Judge Paul Michel. The ball room was eloquently decorated and a small jazz band played through the beginning of dinner. I sat one table over from Judge and Mrs. Michel, Judge and Mrs. Rader and Q. Todd Dickinson.
Once dinner was underway, the evening program began. There was essentially a “changing of the guards” where, according to tradition the outgoing President of the AIPLA, who was Alan J. Kasper of Sughrue Mion, PLLC in Washington DC, passes on the President’s medallion to the incoming president who in this case is David W. Hill, who is a partner at Finnegan Henderson, also located in Washington DC.
The Executive Director of the AIPLA, Q. Todd Dickinson, then took the stage to introduce a video that was dedicated to this year’s AIPLA Board of Directors’ Excellence Award. This year the award was given to the Honorable Chief Justice Paul R. Michel, who retired earlier this year. Dickinson explained the award was being given to him “in recognition of his extraordinary leadership and service to the United States Government and in particular his leadership of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit as Chief Judge while having a distinguished career marked by intellect, integrity, and an unwavering commitment to the administration of justice.”
The video featured Chief Judge Randall Rader of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Q. Todd Dickinson, Executive Director of the AIPLA, Meredith Martin Addy, who is chair of the appellate practice group at Brinks, Hofer, Gilson & Lione, Philip Johnson of Johnson & Johnson and David King, the founder and executive producer with The Carlin Company. They had the following to say about Judge Michel:
Chief Judge Randall R. Radar – Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Paul Michel’s tenure as Chief Judge is almost the culmination of an era at the Federal Circuit. He brought us the visiting judges from the district courts and they would come and invariably leave our court with a new vision of how we worked and how they should work. In our private administrative meetings he had a talent for saying things when they were needed and with the power and precision to be convincing. Paul would offer his commentary and it would often change the direction and bring the court to a conclusion. He just had a vision of how to improve the Federal Circuit in the standing of the rest of the courts. When the time actually came and he said that he was retiring I was disappointed because I won’t be able to walk down the hall and get advice. Interestingly he said, “You know, it’s my experience that you need to move in a new direction without the advise of the old direction.” I think we’ll remember him as somebody who built on the tradition of his predecessors and then put the Federal Circuit forward as it needed to go.
Q. Todd Dickinson – Executive Director of the AIPLA and former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the Unites States Patent and Trademark Office.
He’s one of those figures that when history is written he will be seen as very seminal to it’s early development. He had a classic career path for a Federal Judge and for a judge of the CFC. He had a lot of experience within the government, within the justice department and was also very valuable on Capitol Hill. It creates a very firm ground for somebody to become a great judge as he did. A particularly notable case and one for which he will long be remembered for would be the Bilski case. Probably no case has been so carefully watched by the general public in addition to the IP community than Bilski and it goes to the core issue of what is patentable in the first instance. To have a second life, if you will, where he comes as a passionate advocate for the improvement of our system, for getting the PTO the resources it needs but now with the freedom to speak even more candidly, I’m looking forward to the immediate future of having him as a great ally for us and for our system. His willingness to serve and to guide and to help mentor folks in our organization has always been present.
Philip Johnson – Johnson & Johnson
He’s been such a presence on the court for so many years He understands the purpose of Intellectual Property as being an incentive to spur creativity, ingenuity, investment and ultimately economic development. This lead to a number of things including understandings between those who were involved and one project which was a result of it was the damages handbook of the Federal Judiciary. Judge Michel will be remembered for bringing people together. People on his own court, people within the judicial system, judges from around the world, practitioners, and ultimately the entire IP community
Meredith Martin Addy – Lead Cousel for Brinks, Hofer, Gilson and Lione
Judge Michel needless to say was “larger than life.”. He had a passion for the practice. Judge Michel had a mission and he was trying to lower the barrier between the bench and the bar in hopes that the work product that the bench received from the bar would be better. My favorite is his dissent in “Festo” because it provided a road map for the Supreme Court to take cert. and you could see it, it was clear. I became acutely aware of his desire to bring understandable president to the bar and to the industry so that patent law will be more predictable. With this transition in his career it will allow him to be an advocate for IP.
David King – Founder and Executive Director at The Carlin Company
He recognized it was important to bring the opinion of the court, the collective opinion of the court to a useful and productive place that would be reliable and therefore they could be counted on by the greater IP community and the businesses that rely on IP. One of his last decisions that comes to mind is the Lucent Gateway decision on patent damages which I thought was a very practical common sense based decision. He organized and chaired several international judges conferences where he brought 80 judges or more from 30 or more countries to Washington to discuss the job of judging patent matters around the world.
The entertainment for the dinner event was provided by The Mahoney Brothers “Long Live the Beatles.” They dedicated the second song of the evening to Judge Michel. I wondered what song they could possibly dedicate to Judge Michel but once the song began to play, I could not help but laugh. Can you guess? If you guessed Michelle (My Belle) you guessed it right.
I spoke to Judge Michel this weekend and asked him if he would like to provide us with his thoughts about the AIPLA dinner and reception. This is what he had to say:
I was thrilled to be recognized by an organization I have admired for so many years and to be included in an all star cast that starts with my mentor, Chief Judge Markey, and goes on to so many giants in the IP field. Feeling respected by the leaders in IP who attended the retirement dinner on Tuesday and applauded my efforts on Friday gave me the greatest joy anyone can get from professional colleagues. Two dream evenings in one week!
Judge Michel has been honored many times over the last year for all that he has done for the betterment of intellectual property as a whole. If ever you have had the pleasure of meeting Judge Michel as I have, you will agree that these honors bestowed upon him have been well deserved. History will remember him for his accomplishments over the course of his career, but those who know him will remember him as a most gracious, genuine and likeable man.