Biden Names Delaware Judge Leonard Stark to Replace O’Malley on CAFC

By IPWatchdog
November 3, 2021

Judge Leonard Stark

President Joe Biden today announced that Judge Leonard Stark of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware is his latest nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). Stark will replace CAFC Judge Kathleen O’Malley, who announced on July 27 this year that she will retire, leaving a vacancy on the court as of March 11, 2022.

Biden nominated Tiffany Cunningham in March of this year and she was confirmed to the court in July. Cunningham replaced Judge Evan J. Wallach, who retired from active service and assumed senior status on May 31, 2021, after 10 years of service with the court.

As a district court judge at one of the most active courts for patent cases in the country, Stark is a natural choice to replace O’Malley. He has served on the Delaware court since 2010 and was Chief Judge for the District of Delaware from July 2014 to June 2021. He also served as a magistrate judge for the district of Delaware from 2007-2010 and as an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware, where he worked in both the criminal and civil divisions.

Stark worked in private practice between 1997 and 2001 at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, and served as a law clerk for Judge Walter Stapleton on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit from 1996 to 1997.

Judge O’Malley was confirmed to the CAFC on March 10, 2010. She was nominated by President Barack Obama to succeed Alvin Schall. She previously served on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. She has gained a reputation for writing decidedly pro-patent opinions and likely will be missed by the IP community, but Stark’s district court and patent experience may offer some hope that her legacy will be carried on.

Biden also nominated an all-female slate of eight district courts judges and one local D.C. judge:

  • Georgette Castner: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
  • Judge Jacqueline Corley: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California
  • Judge Ruth Bermudez Montenegro: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Southern District of California
  • Evelyn Padin: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
  • Judge Julie Rubin: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Maryland
  • Judge Cristina D. Silva: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Nevada
  • Judge Trina Thompson: Nominee for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California
  • Anne Rachel Traum: Nominee for the United States District Court for the District of Nevada
  • Kendra Briggs: Nominee for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia

These latest nominations represent Biden’s ninth round of nominees for federal judicial positions; he has now named 62 federal judicial nominees.

“These choices also 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,” a White House press release said.

Chad Landmon of Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider said that Stark is “hard working and fair”: “Judge Stark is highly regarded and certainly has extensive experience with patent cases across a variety of industries. He is a very hard-working judge and has always been very fair to all sides before him. If confirmed, he will make an excellent addition to the Federal Circuit.”

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Discuss this

There are currently 17 Comments comments. Join the discussion.

  1. Curious November 3, 2021 12:39 pm

    No patent experience. No technical experience. Author of very questionable American Axle district court opinion.
    United States District Judge Leonard P. Stark Judge Stark is a graduate of the University of Delaware (Honors B.A. Political Science ’91, B.S. with Distinction Economics ’91, M.A. European History ’91), University of Oxford (Magdalen College) (D. Phil. British Politics 1993), and Yale Law School (J.D. 1996).

    While he could eventually prove me wrong, he has all the makings of a Federal Circuit judge that will be the darling of patent infringers everywhere.

  2. BlutoBlutarsky November 3, 2021 1:07 pm

    Oh great. He’s a walking, talking 101 gum ball machine.

  3. Anon November 3, 2021 1:08 pm

    She previously served on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. She has gained a reputation for writing decidedly pro-patent opinions and likely will be missed by the IP community, but Stark’s district court experience may offer some hope.

    A friend of mine in that area mentioned that Judge O’Malley provided a keynote address to a local CLE effort recently, and that her views will be published in a forthcoming law review article.

  4. Anon November 3, 2021 1:11 pm

    the last line of the quote I provided (“but Stark’s district court experience may offer some hope.“) — seems to be finding some dissonance rather than concordance.

    As the blog entry here is not signed by an individual, I have to wonder what the writer had in mind for making that statement of hope.

  5. Greg DeLassus November 3, 2021 2:12 pm

    Best possible contemporary choice. As a judge in the district of DE he has skads of patent litigation experience. His work when sitting on the CAFC by designation was excellent.

  6. Particularly Pointing Out November 3, 2021 3:12 pm

    The Federal Circuit isn’t just about patents.

  7. Curious November 3, 2021 3:43 pm

    His work when sitting on the CAFC by designation was excellent.
    Excellent work killing patents undoubtedly. No wonder why you like him.

    If you ever have the (mis)fortune of having him on your panel dealing with patents that one of you clients own, I’ll wager good money that you’ll be changing your tune real quick.

  8. Greg DeLassus November 3, 2021 5:31 pm

    Excellent work killing patents undoubtedly.

    His work is linked below. Well within the fat portion of the bell curve distribution of CAFC quality. He is not the second coming of Giles Rich, nor even Pauline Newman, but who is? Among the possible choices available to Pres. Biden, he is in the first rate rung.

    If you ever have… him on your panel dealing with patents that one of you[r] clients own, I’ll wager good money that you’ll be changing your tune real quick.

    Next time my company has occasion to be in front of the CAFC, I would be delighted to see Judge Stark on the panel. Win or lose, I would know that the outcome he writes would be just and according to the law.

  9. Anon November 3, 2021 6:10 pm

    The link from Mr. DeLassus contains 19 items.
    7 each in 2015 and 2016
    4 in 2018
    1 in 2020

    I highly doubt that Mr. DeLassus has actually evaluated the merits of these decisions, nor noted the timing thereof (with one obvious question as to why the diminishing of service “by designation”).

  10. Curious November 3, 2021 10:05 pm

    His work is linked below. Well within the fat portion of the bell curve distribution of CAFC quality.
    That’s a nice conclusory assertion bereft of analysis.

    Win or lose, I would know that the outcome he writes would be just and according to the law.
    LOL. You haven’t seen all the 12b6 motions to dismiss he’s granted as a district court judge in order to clear his patent docket, have you?

  11. Night Writer November 4, 2021 9:04 am

    I have to admit that I picked a random case from Greg’s link RUCKUS WIRELESS and J. Stark did a good job on that one.

  12. Curious November 4, 2021 1:08 pm

    I have to admit that I picked a random case from Greg’s link RUCKUS WIRELESS and J. Stark did a good job on that one.
    I read that one too. It was the first case listed (so perhaps not so random). However, all of those cases dated from 2015 and 2016, with the exception of the Click-to-Call family of cases (which also originated at the same timeframe).

    While Stark appeared to do a good job in Ruckus, I’ve been privy to a lot of his recent decisions. He’s got a cut-and-paste 12b6 memorandum opinion that he has frequently used to kill patents. It seems to me Stark saw the (Iiberal) light and decided that patents asserted against large tech companies need to be killed off quickly. Moreover, when he saw how successful he was in clearing his patent docket with this, he expanded its use (American Axle being one such case).

  13. Anon November 4, 2021 4:27 pm

    But Curious (don’tcha know), it is ONLY “bad” patents that are enforced in court.

    (Cue the pre-1952 Supreme Court self-labeledthe only valid patent is one that has not yet appeared before us” line)

  14. Model 101 November 4, 2021 7:30 pm

    Another crook!

    Why noone should ever invent anything.

    Makes me sick!

  15. PTO-indentured November 5, 2021 10:21 am

    All part of the machinations, anti-competition bias and uncertainties we’ve come to expect in: A Best Patent System Money Can Buyi

  16. Anonymous November 6, 2021 11:07 pm

    Stark originated the insidious “101 days” in Delaware, where many motions to dismiss are scheduled for oral argument the same day in serial fashion. Giving the appearance of due process and opportunity to be heard, judges then rule from the bench, providing the argument little to no consideration. Years of hard work gone. Property rights extinguished. Jury trials put out of reach. All to clear a docket.

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