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Posts in Interviews & Conversations

Exclusive Interview: Senator Birch Bayh on Bayh-Dole at 30

At IPWatchdog.com we will spend the next month celebrating Bayh-Dole. We kick off our month long celebration of Bayh-Dole with an exclusive interview with the chief architect of the legislation — The Honorable Birch Bayh, a former three-term United States Senator from the State of Indiana. Senator Bayh is now with Venable LLP, which is located in Washington, DC, and where I conducted my interview with him on October 13, 2010.

During this first installment of my two-part interview with Senator Bayh we discuss some of the accomplishments of Bayh-Dole and Senator Bayh tells the story of how Bayh-Dole came to be. I suspect many, if not most, will be amazed to learn just how close we came to not have this monumentally successful legislation. But for another Senator lifting a hold with an hour left in the 1980 lame duck session there would never have been a Bayh-Dole Act.

AIPLA Honors Chief Judge Paul Michel with Board of Directors’ Excellence Award

The Executive Director of the AIPLA, Q. Todd Dickinson, then took the stage to introduce a video that was dedicated to this year’s AIPLA Board of Directors’ Excellence Award. This year the award was given to the Honorable Chief Justice Paul R. Michel, who retired earlier this year. Dickinson explained the award was being given to him “in recognition of his extraordinary leadership and service to the United States Government and in particular his leadership of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit as Chief Judge while having a distinguished career marked by intellect, integrity, and an unwavering commitment to the administration of justice.”

Interview Sequel Finale: Michel on Appellate Advocacy at CAFC

This is the final installment in my follow-up interview with Chief Judge Paul Michel, who retired from the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit effective June 1, 2010. In some ways this might be the most interesting of all of the interview segments for those practicing in the patent arena, or those who have any reason to appear in front of the Federal Circuit. In this final installment Chief Judge Michel speaks with me about what, in his opinion, makes for effective appellate advocacy, both in terms of written briefs and in terms of oral presentation.

Chief Judge Michel Sequel Part 2: Good Decisions, Bad Decisions, Supreme Court Frustrations and Criticism

Chief Judge Michel graciously agreed to a second interview, which took place on September 24, 2010. In part 1 of this interview sequel, we discussed fee diversion at the USPTO, he gave an insiders view of the Senate confirmation process, discussed the confirmation process of Robert Bork and a federal judiciary that seems almost ignored by Congress. In part 2, which appears below, Chief Judge Michel and I talk about the Federal Circuit, focusing on the good decisions during his tenure on the Court, as well as a few he thought the Court got wrong, including a nearly unanimous en banc decision. We discuss inequitable conduct, his thoughts regarding the Supreme Court should be meddling with patent law so much, and what he tried to do as Chief Judge to bring the Court together and build a collegial working environment.

Federal Circuit Bar Association Honors Chief Judge Michel

On Tuesday, October 19, 2010, I attended the retirement dinner and reception of the Honorable Chief Judge Paul R. Michel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Washington DC. As fate would have it, I got lost on my way to the party. Even though I thought I gave myself plenty of time to get there, I arrived right before dinner. After dinner the celebration began with a video featuring numerous speakers and a toast. What follows is a recap of the evening’s events, as well as some quotes on the record from several distinguished guests that were at the event to celebrate with Chief Judge Michel.

Interview Sequel: Chief Judge Paul Michel

In July 2010 I had the privilege of interviewing Chief Judge Paul Michel of the Federal Circuit, who had just recently retired from the Court effective May 31, 2010. Chief Judge Michel spoke with me on the record for over 1 hour and 40 minutes, and even then I only was able to get to a fraction of the topics that the Chief Judge agreed to discuss on the record. Chief Judge Michel agreed to go back on the record with me to address those additional topics, such as the confirmation process to become a judge, the state of the federal judiciary, funding for the Patent Office, Federal Circuit decisions over his tenure on the Court and more. We had our second interview on September 24, 2010, again at the University Club in Washington, DC.

Mark Lemley Part 2: In re Cipro, Patent Misuse, Fun Stuff

In part 1 of my interview with Mark Lemley we discussed whether the Supreme Court will take the i4i v. Microsoft case and address the presumption of validity, as well as what implications such a ruling would have on the value of previously acquired property rights. In part 2 of the interview, which appears below, we move past the presumption of validity to several other patent matters, including reverse pharma payments and In re Ciproflaxacin, the Stanford Patent Prize, patent misuse, patent trolls and the usual fun questions with a heavy emphasis on science fiction.

On the Record with Mark Lemley: The Presumption of Validity

On Friday, September 17, 2010, I had the opportunity to chat with Professor Mark Lemley, who is the William H. Neukom Professor at Stanford Law School and partner in the San Francisco law firm Durie Tangri LLP. Lemley is well known both in the academic community and the practice community. In fact, he is one of only a select few that have managed to simultaneously have a stellar career both in academia and in private practice. I chat with Lemley via e-mail from time to time on various matters, and we have talked about an interview for some time. Then a draft of a amicus brief Lemly filed today with the United States Supreme Court arrived in my inbox and I knew this was the issue that would make for an excellent interview. Lemley is leading the charge of law professors who are asking the Supreme Court to review i4i v. Microsoft and address the presumption of validity enjoyed by an issued patent, pegging the presumption to those references considered by the patent examiner during prosecution.

Todd Dickinson Interview Part 3: Fee Diversion, Kappos, 3 Track

My interview with Q. Todd Dickinson, the current Executive Director of the AIPLA and former Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the Patent and Trademark Office, took place on August 19, 2010, in a conference room at AIPLA headquarters. In this final installment of the interview we discuss how current USPTO Director David Kappos is doing, whether his honeymoon period will ever end, whether there is any concern he will burn-out, and we discuss the AIPLA position on Three Track, plus the usual fun questions at the end.

Todd Dickinson Interview Part 2: Patent Reform is Not Dead

In this second installment of my interview with current AIPLA Executive Director and former USPTO Director, Q. Todd Dickinson, we start out discussing pendency at the Patent Office. Dickinson tells me about the incentives he used to keep patent examiners as they matured into the level of experience where they are ready to really roll up their sleeves and become the work-horses that Office needs. We talk about the AIPLA position on the proposed Three Track Proposal now pending at the USPTO. We then moved into a very interesting discussion of patent reform, and a bombshell is dropped, at least in my opinion. I was surprised to hear Dickinson say that he does not think patent reform is dead for THIS legislative cycle. He says: “The clock’s running and, the plays have to be run a little faster,” but that he “can see a path forward once the Congress returns.” He goes on to point out that the American Inventors Protection Act was attached to an appropriations bill. Looking at what Congress has on its plate upon returning it looks like there are a lot of appropriations bills. Curious indeed!

Exclusive Interview: Former USPTO Director Todd Dickinson

As you will read in Part 1 of the interview (see below) Dickinson was not only the first Director of the USPTO, but he was the last Commissioner. The American Inventors Protection Act shuffled the titles around for seemingly unknown reasons, and since the AIPA went into effect while Dickinson was at the helm of the USPTO he is guaranteed a place in patent history, or at least patent trivia. In Part 1, I also asked him about how he managed to bring down average pendency during his tenure, which was the only time over the last 20+ years that has happened. We also discussed how he managed to get on the short list for the Director/Commissioner job, the confirmation process, the craziest question he received during confirmation, vanishing IP boutiques and RCEs. Part 2 is largely devoted to patent reform, which will be extremely interesting, I promise!

Interview Finale: Chief Judge Michel on Bilski & Supreme Court

In this final installment of my interview with Chief Judge Paul Michel we discuss Bilski v. Kappos and what he thought of the Supreme Court’s decision. Judge Michel talks about how only one of the Justices who decided Bilski ever decided a patentable subject matter decision, leaving the impression that the Supreme Court should probably just leave well enough alone. He tells us that he “think[s] the Federal Circuit can help minimize harm” that may otherwise be caused by the Supreme Court’s decision in Bilski v. Kappos, but is unsure whether the Federal Circuit can all “the harm that may lie inherent in the approach of the Supreme Court in that opinion…” Chief Judge Michel also discusses how he feels that the patent system is now favoring extremely large companies over independent inventors, start-ups and small businesses. Plus, the fun stuff!

Interview Exclusive: USPTO Director David Kappos

In this interview Kappos discusses with me his management style, his famously long hours, how he manages to inspire the Office to work harder than ever before, his efforts to get funding for the Office, how the USPTO can help innovators create new businesses and new jobs, and how to inspire young people to do public service. We also learn that he and Judge Rader share the same favorite movie (see Judge Rader Interview at the end), he likes Star Trek and Star Wars equally (an astute political answer no doubt) and the famous American inventor he would like to meet is a “Mount Rushmore” inventor.

Chief Judge Michel to Congress: Invest $1 Billion to Revive PTO

In this third installment things get interesting, perhaps even a bit explosive. The former Chief of the Federal Circuit pulls no punches and talks openly and honestly about Congress, laying the blame for the decline of the Patent Office squarely on the feet of Congress who has since 1992 siphoned off at least $750 million thanks to fee diversion. This has left the Patent Office short on resources to do what needs to be done. The Judge also makes the case for regional Patent Offices and getting involved in the patent reform debate so that a handful of companies can’t dominate the discussions to their sole benefit. He talks about perhaps setting up a think tank to promote a pro-patent and innovation agenda, and how it is a “travesty” that patent rights cannot be enforced in a relevant time frame through litigation because of backlogs in the federal court system. I think it is fair to say that Congress was in the cross-hairs during this segment of our interview and some of what Chief Judge Michel tells me was surprisingly forceful, direct and extremely critical. Having said that, I think practically everyone in the industry will agree with him. I know I sure do!

Judge Michel II: Public Nuisance #1 Proselytizing for Patents

In this installment we start out talking about Judge Michel’s work for Senator Arlen Specter and how today there seems to be a slow and steady decline in the checks and balances intended to be a part of the federal system. This lead us into talking about the Founding Fathers and how they viewed intellectual property, and patent in particular, as critically important. We discussed how the Patent Office used to be held in such esteem by the Founding Fathers and many generations, and how that seems to be a relic of the past. We also discussed how Judge Michel would like to become a public nuisance and troublemaker as he attempts to proselytize for the patent system and a more responsible federal government.