USPTO Solicitor Ray Chen Nominated for the Federal Circuit

By Gene Quinn
February 7, 2013

Ray Chen, Nominee for the CAFC

Earlier today President Barack Obama made two nominations for the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Nominated were Raymond T. Chen, who is currently the Solicitor for the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and Todd M. Hughes, who is currently Deputy Director of the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Civil Division at the United States Department of Justice. The Federal Circuit is the Court of Appeals charged with handling all patent appeals from the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the various Federal District Courts regardless of where they are located geographically.

“Raymond T. Chen and Todd M. Hughes have displayed exceptional dedication to public service throughout their careers,” President Obama said. “I am honored to nominate them today to serve the American people on the United States Court of Appeals. I am confident that they will be judicious and esteemed additions to the Federal Circuit.”

While I do not know Hughes, I do know Ray Chen. In my opinion Chen’s nomination is objectively positive, and another in a line of excellent patent related appointments by President Obama. It will be good to see another “patent person” on the Federal Circuit, particularly as the patent attorneys who are members of the Federal Circuit get on in years and are taking (or qualify to take) senior status.

Over the past several years I have gotten to know Chen, seeing him at the various industry functions ranging from conferences, to the AIPLA annual meeting, to holiday parties and as I am in and out of the USPTO for one reason or another. I had the opportunity to interview Chen in August 2012. I have always found him to be extremely knowledgeable about all things patent. He is thoughtful and articulate, and the briefs he authors are well written and to the point. Ray is also relatively young — in his mid-forties — which means if confirmed he could spend over a generation on the Federal Circuit working to shape U.S. patent laws.

The official White House announcement contained the following biographical information about Chen and Hughes.

Raymond T. Chen:  Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Raymond T. Chen currently serves as the Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property Law and Solicitor for the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), a position he has held since 2008.

Chen received his B.S. in electrical engineering in 1990 from the University of California, Los Angeles, and his J.D. in 1994 from the New York University School of Law.  After graduating from law school, he joined Knobbe, Martens, Olson & Bear, a boutique intellectual property law firm in Irvine, California, where he prosecuted patents and represented clients in intellectual property litigation.  From 1996 to 1998, Chen served as a Technical Assistant at the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, performing the functions of a staff attorney.  At the end of his two-year term, he joined the USPTO as Associate Solicitor and remained in that role until his promotion to Solicitor in 2008.   Since joining the USPTO, Chen has represented the agency in numerous appeals before the Federal Circuit and personally argued over 20 cases, issued guidance to patent examiners to ensure consistency with developing law, advised the agency on legal and policy issues, and helped promulgate regulations.  He has co-chaired the Patent and Trademark Office Committee of the Federal Circuit Bar Association and is a member of the Advisory Council for the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Todd M. Hughes:  Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Todd M. Hughes is Deputy Director of the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Civil Division at the United States Department of Justice, a position he has held since 2007.  He also has served as an adjunct lecturer in law with the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and as an instructor for Duke University’s writing program.

Hughes received his A.B. from Harvard College in 1989 and completed a joint degree program with Duke University, earning both his J.D. with honors and his M.A. in English in 1992.  After graduating from law school, Hughes clerked for the Honorable Robert B. Krupansky of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  In 1994, he joined the Commercial Litigation Branch as a trial attorney.  Five years later, he was appointed to be Assistant Director for Commercial Litigation, a role he held until assuming the title of Deputy Director in 2007.  Throughout his career with the Department of Justice, Hughes’s practice has been devoted to matters of federal personnel law, veterans’ benefits, international trade, government contracts, and jurisdictional issues regarding the United States Court of Federal Claims.  He has extensive experience before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the United States Court of International Trade, and the United States Court of Federal Claims, and he has garnered a number of special commendations from the Department of Justice and a special contribution award from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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 February 7, 2013 2:53 pm


    Ray Chen is a truly excellent (and pleasant surprise) choice for the Federal Circuit. With his background as USPTO Solicitor, he’ll bring some needed knowledge and understaning on patent matters as it relates to proceedings coming from the USPTO, both ex parte and inter partes. We could have done a lot worse than Obama picking in Chen. I can only wish him the best and hope his nomination sails through the Senate.

  2. Steve M February 7, 2013 7:50 pm

    An excellent choice. Congratulations, Mr. Chen.

    Anyone who cares about patents and IP should hope he’s confirmed; and the sooner the better.

    I just hope he treats “the little guys (and gals)” independent inventors and small companies fairly and equally when their cases come before the Court in the years to come.

    The “big boys” just seem to carry so much clout these days.