Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

High Court Nixes Five Patent Rulings: Troll-Friendly Circuit Judge's Departure a Boon for Banks

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

High Court Nixes Five Patent Rulings: Troll-Friendly Circuit Judge's Departure a Boon for Banks

Article excerpt

Sandy Koufax may be known as a Hall of Fame pitcher, but as a batter he still holds the Major League record for 12 consecutive strikeouts. This year, Randall Rader, the recently retired chief judge of the Federal Circuit, suffered a worse batting record than Koufax when his court was unanimously overruled by the Supreme Court in five consecutive patent cases. Using the baseball illustration, the Federal Circuit's failure to garner a supporting vote from any of the nine justices means the Federal Circuit swung and missed 45 times, resulting in 15 strikeouts. The Federal Circuit has been notoriously generous to patent trolls, so the strikeouts tallied by the Supreme Court were a boon to bankers.

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The U.S. Court of Appeals of the Federal Circuit has exercised exclusive jurisdiction over patent appeals since 1982. Judge Rader was nominated to the court in 1990 and became chief judge in 2010. The court's patent-troll friendly rulings may stem from its reputation for closely fraternizing with the patent bar, which is comprised of attorneys who generally favor patent holders. Judge Rader retired in June because his judicial ethics were questioned after he sent a laudatory email to a patent attorney who regularly appears before the court. The email said the attorney was "IMPRESSIVE in every way," and was signed, "Your friend for life." Judge Rader recently conceded the email was unethical and "inexcusably careless." This year, the Supreme Court apparently had enough and began limiting the power of patent holders by reversing the lower court's patent-troll friendly decisions.

First, the Supreme Court overruled the court in Octane Fitness v. …

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