I am just getting back from a week in San Francisco, California teaching the PLI Patent Bar Review Course at PLI’s California Headquarters in downtown San Francisco. I am back in the office after having taken the red-eye, with a stop over in Long Beach, California before the cross country trek to DC. As has become so common, while I was away and attending to other business a major announcement was made last week. It seems that news breaks whenever I am away on business, so it is either a conspiracy or I just travel for business too much! In any event, by now most in the patent community are likely aware that Chief Judge Paul Michel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit announced on Friday, November 20, 2009, that he will not be taking senior status when it is available to him and instead will be stepping down from the Federal Circuit effective May 31, 2010. As Judge Michel exits, presumably to take on a more active and vocal role in patent reform efforts, Judge Randall Rader will assume the duties of the Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit.
Judge Michel has served on the Federal Circuit since March 1988, being appointed to the Court by President Ronald Reagan. Michel served as a Circuit Judge on the Federal Circuit until December 25, 2004, when he assumed the duties of the Chief Judge, replacing then Chief Judge Robert Mayer, so who finished his term as Chief Judge and resumed his role as a Circuit Judge on the Federal Circuit. Since assuming the role of Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit, Michel has has served as one of 27 judges comprising the Judicial Conference of the United States, the governing body of the Judicial Branch, and in 2005 he was appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States to serve on the seven-judge Executive Committee of the Judicial Conference.
Prior to his appointment to the Federal Circuit by President Reagan, Judge Michel served the United States government in both the executive and legislative branches. After graduating from the University of Virginia Law School in 1966, Michel served as Assistant District Attorney and then Deputy District Attorney for Investigations under Arlen Specter in Philadelphia. From 1974-1975 Michel served as Assistant Special Watergate Prosecutor and was responsible for investigating President Nixon’s slush fund and Nixon’s secretary, Rosemary Woods, among other matters. From 1975 to 1976 he was an assistant counsel for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, assisting with the investigation of abuses of civil liberties by law enforcement and intelligence agencies believed to be targeting American citizens. From 1976-1978, Michel served as Deputy Chief of the Justice Department’s new Public Integrity Section, and then in 1980 he briefly served as Acting Deputy Attorney General. From April 1981 until March of 1988, he served on Senator Arlen Specter’s staff, including as Counsel and Chief of Staff.
Since joining the judiciary in 1988, Chief Judge Michel has written over 800 judicial opinions and has regularly sat by designation of the Chief Justice with the Second, Third and Ninth Circuits.
Judge Michel over the years has been a popular speaker at a number of conferences and events. He has also achieved numerous awards and recognitions for his service, including the the 1999 Jefferson Medal for “outstanding contributions … to promote the progress of Science and Useful Arts,” the 2002 Katz-Kiley Prize, and the 2005 Eli Whitney Prize. Since 2003, he has annually been named by Managing Intellectual Property magazine as one of the 50 Most Influential People in the world in intellectual property. In March 2007, Chief Judge Michel was awarded the New York Intellectual Property Law Association’s Fifth Annual Outstanding Public Service Award for “unwavering commitment to the administration of justice.” In 2008 Chief Judge Michel was awarded the first annual Lifetime Achievement Award by the Richard Linn American Inn of Court in Chicago for “Dedication to Justice for All,” the Sedona Conference Lifetime Achievement Award for “Contributions to Intellectual Property Law,” the first award for “Outstanding Achievement in the Area of Intellectual Property Law” of the Philadelphia Intellectual Property Law Association, and the annual Judicial Honoree Award of the Bar Association of the District of Columbia.