AIPLA Honors Judge Newman with Excellence Award

By Gene Quinn
October 29, 2012

Todd Dickinson (right) escorts Judge Newman off stage after receiving the AIPLA Excellence Award.

On Friday, October 26, 2012, at the Gala dinner event at the Annual Meeting of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA), Judge Pauline Newman of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit received the 2012 AIPLA Excellence Award.

The Program for the event explained that the Excellence Award was presented to Judge Newman “in recognition of extraordinary leadership and service to the Intellectual Property Community, which is representative of a distinguished career marked by intellect, integrity, and an unwavering commitment to the administration of justice.”

The AIPLA has honored a number of excellent and worthy winners in the past including Chief Judge Howard T. Markey, Chief Judge Paul Michel, Judge Rich and Donald Dunner to name but a few.  Judge Pauline Newman is now a recipient of this top industry recognition, and if you ask me she is deserving of being on the Mount Rushmore of this exclusive club.

The program for the evening also contained a message from Judge Richard Linn, also a member of the Federal Circuit.  Judge Linn’s wrote:

It is a pleasure for me to have the opportunity to honor my colleague and my dear friend, Judge Pauline Newman.  To say that Judge Newman is a woman of accomplishment is a serious understatement.  There is no glass ceiling she hasn’t broken.  When I asked her what she thought about Justice Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court, she said with a twinkle in her eye, “That’s a nice start.”  She has accomplished more than most men could ever hope to accomplish, and she did so for the most part at a time when our country and the institutions that operate here were, shall we say, not quite as progressive as they are today.

As a jurist, she has accomplished much for which to be proud.  She has authored well over eleven-hundred opinions, including over eight-hundred majority opinions.  She is strongly independent, always looking out for the little guy and reaching to find a way to do what she thinks is fair, just and appropriate.  She has little patience for those who try to game the system or take advantage and has on more than one occasion lashed out against those who are on the wrong side of an issue about which she is passionate.

Her independence is reflected in the fact that she has written more than 275 dissents.  Her dissents have not gone unnoticed by those who regularly look over our shoulders.  By my count, of the ten cases that have gone up to the Supreme Court which dissents written by Judge Newman, the court has reversed or vacated six times.  That gives Judge Newman a .600 batting average at the Supreme Court, which very well may be a record.

Judge Newman is a remarkable human being, who has service the people of this country unselfishly and with distinction as a judge on the Federal Circuit for twenty-eight years and who has a lifetime of accomplishment within the intellectual property community.  She is a living legend, who epitomizes excellence and is most deserving of the 2012 AIPLA Excellence Award.

As is typical at these types of award events, the AIPLA put together a brief video honoring Judge Newman’s many years of service.  Industry dignitaries and several of her former law clerks spoke eloquently and lovingly of Judge Newman both as the expert in patent law that we all know so well, but of Judge Newman as a person and what she has meant to them personally.

“I can think of few other people who would meet the definition of excellence not just its broadest sense, but also specifically with what she has done with her life day in and day out,” explained Q. Todd Dickinson, former Director of the USPTO and current Executive Director of the AIPLA.  “She has been an extraordinary friend to the AIPLA.”

Judge Newman addresses a sold out banquet hall as Bill Barber (then AIPLA President and now Past President) looks on.

Albert Tramposch, who is Deputy Executive Director for International and Regulatory matters at the AIPLA, and a former law clerk to Judge Newman took a moment on the video to explain the role Judge Newman played in helping push Congress to create the Federal Circuit. “She testified before Congress and in her role as an industry leader she helped push the formation of the Court in order to strengthen the system,” said Tramposch.  He would later in the video in a person moment simply said: “I will remember her for what she has contributed to my life and my career.”

Another of Judge Newman’s clerks explained that working for Judge Newman was “like getting a Ph.D. in patent law.”  Another clerk, while tearing up, said that Judge Newman “has touched all of our lives in ways I just can’t describe.”

Also interviewed on the video montage was Judge Alan Lourie, also a member of the Federal Circuit, who said that Judge Newman “has a deep understanding of the patent system and its role in foster innovation in the United States and around the world.”

When it was Judge Newman’s turn to speak, she spoke briefly, and not about herself. Judge Newman was easily the most accomplished person in the banquet hall on this particularly evening, and the one who we all came to honor, yet she used her remarks to speak of how we are all on the same team, and how we need to stay strong and keep up the fight for what we know is right.  She said:

We are all here with the same purpose, the same concept, the same motivations and the same understand of the critical importance to the nation of all the things we are doing.  What you are doing and what this Association is up to and to the extent that the judiciary is involved, to do our best. We are all in this together and I encourage us to stand firm and do everything we can.  The future of the nation depends on us and our devotion to truth, and getting it right and justice.

Judge Lourie discusses Judge Newman on the tribute video. Left: Bill Barber and Todd Dickinson look on.

As for my thoughts? I have had the honor to know Judge Newman for several years now, and I have seen that twinkle in her eye that Judge Linn referred to above.  Her smile will light up any room, and she is extraordinarily gracious.  But as much of a shining light as she is personally, her legacy will be one written into the foundation of patent jurisprudence.  She has not only influenced those who have worked with her directly and those who know her personally, but she has influenced the very fabric of patent law.  She has done this not only with her forceful and in my opinion always accurate opinions, but also by inspiring the countless patent attorneys who have grown up looking to her writing for knowledge and reassurance.  At a time when it seems that patent rights are eroding all around us, under attack by strange bedfellows and those who prefer to ignore history, Judge Newman has been and continues to be a rock and a guiding light.

Congratulations to Judge Newman and to the AIPLA for another wonderful annual meeting and extravaganza.

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and founder of Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and an attorney with Widerman Malek. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

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Discuss this

There are currently 2 Comments comments.

  1. EG October 29, 2012 8:30 am


    Judge Newman is truly the Grand Dame of the Federal Circuit. God Bless her!

  2. Steve M October 29, 2012 3:18 pm

    She is, has, and continues to be one of the steadfast beacons of intellectual property rights.

    Our Country’s Founding Fathers would be proud indeed.