President Joe Biden on Wednesday nominated eight new judges for federal courts, including Judge Lucy Koh for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Koh has been a prominent figure in intellectual property (IP) cases in recent years, particularly due to her 2019 order finding that Qualcomm had engaged in unlawful licensing practices, which included her issuance of a permanent, worldwide injunction against several of Qualcomm’s core business practices.
IP leaders including retired Federal Circuit Chief Judge Paul Michel and law professor Kristen Osenga submitted amicus briefs in FTC v. Qualcomm detailing Koh’s legal errors in that ruling. The Ninth Circuit ultimately vacated her decision and reversed the injunction. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Commissioner Christine Wilson said at the IPWatchdog Patent Masters Symposium in 2019 that Koh’s decision “scared” her.
Nonetheless, Koh has a distinguished career. She has served on the U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of California since 2010 and worked as an IP partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP and as a senior associate at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Prior to that, she spent seven years at the U.S. Department of Justice; served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California from 1997 to 2000; as Special Assistant to the Deputy Attorney General from 1996 to 1997; and as Special Counsel in the Office of Legislative Affairs from 1994 to 1996. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1993 and her B.A. from Harvard University in 1990.
Biden also nominated two other judges to the Ninth Circuit: Justice Gabriel Sanchez of the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District, and Judge Holly Thomas of the Family Law Division of the Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The remaining nominees are for California, Minnesota and New Mexico district courts. Judge Maame Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong is the nominee for the United States District Court for the Central District of California; Judge Katherine Marie Menendez is the nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota; Judge Jennifer L. Thurston is the nominee for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California; David Herrera Urias is the nominee for the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico; and Judge Hernán D. Vera is the nominee for the United States District Court for the Central District of California.
This is Biden’s seventh round of nominees for the federal bench; he has now nominated 43 candidates to federal judicial positions.
The White House statement on the nominations said that the nominees “continue to fulfill the President’s promise to ensure that the nation’s courts reflect the diversity that is one of our greatest assets as a country — both in terms of personal and professional backgrounds.” The slate includes a number of “firsts,” such as a nominee who would be the first Korean-American woman to serve as a federal appellate judge; one who would be the first Black woman to serve on the Ninth Circuit from California; and a nominee who would be the only active Black woman district court judge in any of California’s four federal district courts.