Rest in Peace Friend: Remembering Raymond Niro

Raymond Niro

Raymond Niro

It is with great sadness, and a sense of shock, that I write this article about a true giant in our industry.

Renowned patent litigator and champion of independent inventors, Raymond P. Niro, passed away while traveling in Italy.

I will always remember the larger than life, sharp dressed, eloquent friend I had the privilege of getting to know over the last several years. He was always well informed, extraordinarily well prepared, and he was unafraid to say what he thought.

“The American patent system is supposed to protect the American inventor,” Niro told Law360 in May 2016. “It doesn’t do that anymore. It protects Google; it protects Apple; it protects Cisco. But it doesn’t protect the American inventor.”

That was Ray Niro. He didn’t pull any punches.

If anyone ever heard Ray speak, or read any of Ray’s writings, or saw him fight in a courtroom, you would know his passion was to help protect inventors. In some sectors of the community that no doubt lead to Ray being one of the most disliked individuals in the industry. Of course, Ray knew his reputation and he didn’t seem to care. He was representing the underdogs, a role for which he was tailor-made.

Throughout his career he was a champion for the inventor facing long odds due to widespread patent infringement by large multinational corporations. So loathed by some was Niro that he was the one originally referred to as “the patent troll” by the media due to his representation of innovators against giant technology companies.

Of course, referring to Ray as a patent troll is at best half the story. No picture of Ray Niro could ever be complete without mention of his extraordinary success. The reason he managed to get under the skin of so many giant tech companies was because he was very good at proving that large corporations infringed valid patents owned by his clients, sometimes on fundamentally important innovations. Indeed, in a long and distinguished career that spanned over 40 years, Niro collected well over $1 billion for his inventor clients.

In addition to earning the admiration of those in the innovator community, Ray was also a well-decorated trial attorney. In 1997, Ray was named by The National Law Journal as one of the ten top trial attorneys in the United States. In August 2013, The American Lawyer named Ray as one of the Top 50 Big Law Innovators of the past 50 years.

Over the years Ray was always very generous with his time, going on the record with me several times and writing a number of articles for publications on Just days ago he had agreed to write another article for publication on, this time focusing on the decline of the American patent system. Ray believed the U.S. patent system no longer protects the American inventor, but instead protects multinational corporations. In recent years this was a topic that was always very near and dear to his heart.


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Join the Discussion

23 comments so far.

  • [Avatar for Vesna]
    August 12, 2016 12:35 am

    I only knew him via his son Sean who was the apple of his eye. My condolences to Sean Niro. He loved you so much.

  • [Avatar for Stacy Regulski]
    Stacy Regulski
    August 11, 2016 04:23 pm

    Dear Mr. Quinn,
    I had the privilege to work for this most intelligent, generous, and amazing man and attorney. Words cannot express how honored and blessed I am to call him my friend. Thank you for the article you wrote about Ray. It is so accurate and beautifully written about the man who was truly a gentle giant. His passion you speak of was immeasurable. Ray will be missed very much by all. Sleep well dear friend….until we meet again.

  • [Avatar for Mark Thomas]
    Mark Thomas
    August 11, 2016 04:09 pm

    I knew Ray to be a tremendous litigator, a legal scholar and a gentleman. My sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

  • [Avatar for angry dude]
    angry dude
    August 10, 2016 10:31 pm

    very sad news

    the original “patent troll” has passed away and the US Patent System is dying a slow and painful death

    amen, brothers

    no more patents for me

  • [Avatar for Esmeralda Trevino]
    Esmeralda Trevino
    August 10, 2016 10:27 pm

    My condolences going out to the Niro Family !

  • [Avatar for Brian Flanagan]
    Brian Flanagan
    August 10, 2016 06:59 pm

    So sad to hear this. Ray is a neighbor and recently fellow stadium spinning partner. We frequently walked home together wondering why we rise so early to go torture ourselves. Wonderful gentleman.

  • [Avatar for Ray Rzeszutko]
    Ray Rzeszutko
    August 10, 2016 04:48 pm

    Forever thankful!

  • [Avatar for Eric Berend]
    Eric Berend
    August 10, 2016 04:31 pm

    As an individual inventor, not personally knowing this man, it seems that I would find his work admirable. My understanding of the effects of recent changes wrought in various areas to U.S. patent law agrees almost in its entirety, with the quotes I have seen written by Gene in this article.

    It is apparent that the IP community has lost an eminent practitioner whose prestige was built on great merit. I feel it would have been an honor to meet him, considering my own sentiments, those of my late inventor father and of his patent attorney (also now passed; the late Robert Slater, Esq.).

  • [Avatar for Tom Jackson]
    Tom Jackson
    August 10, 2016 04:16 pm

    Ray shared his time freely whenever an inventor needed help. Ray and his team of a few would go against the big and powerful and the many.

    Ray and his team would not stay at expensive hotels or travel first class. His top concern was his client. Ray kept client disbursements at a minimum and he and his team spent their time at a maximum to win for their clients.

    I feel priviliged to have known him.

  • [Avatar for Dan Gulling]
    Dan Gulling
    August 10, 2016 04:04 pm

    Ray was a very good lawyer, and a good person to have by your side in anything! He was passionate about what he did, and about winning. Plus, he had a great sense of humor, and was a lot of fun for his friends to be around. Rest in peace, Ray

  • [Avatar for Suzanne Day]
    Suzanne Day
    August 10, 2016 03:09 pm

    I taught Ray the art of Yoga, breathing and ‘torture’ as Ray fondly put it..
    Ray always treated me w/ respect and humor. His generous spirit was parallel to none and he was one gentle and sassy giant.
    I will deeply miss our long talks every week about life, love and Sean.
    Wow, if there is a God, he choses one spirited Warrior.
    Love and miss you already, my friend.
    Suzanne Day

  • [Avatar for Judith Freda]
    Judith Freda
    August 10, 2016 01:45 pm

    Like the end of an era, He will be missed.
    Prayers and Blessings to all his family.

  • [Avatar for Matt Levy]
    Matt Levy
    August 10, 2016 11:49 am

    My condolences to Ray’s family and friends. He and I were on opposite sides of many issues, but he was always a gentleman. He was also an undeniably good litigator.

  • [Avatar for Sauer]
    August 10, 2016 10:13 am

    What a beautiful summary–I didn’t know Niro but this is very well balanced. It’s important to point out that a person can be hated by the one side, loved by the other, and still be respected by all.

  • [Avatar for EG]
    August 10, 2016 08:54 am

    Hey Gene,

    A sad day, we’ve lost another of the “great ones.” Ray was the same as my late father: always working hard for the “little guy.”

  • [Avatar for Michael McCabe]
    Michael McCabe
    August 10, 2016 08:15 am

    Niro was a force to be reckoned with. And for those who could not afford an IP litigator, he was one of the few really good trial lawyers whose firm would take the risk of a patent infringement case on a contingency.

  • [Avatar for Herb Wamsley]
    Herb Wamsley
    August 10, 2016 07:46 am

    Gene, Thanks for your piece on Ray Niro. He had more admirers than detractors. Once he gave an eloquent speech in Washington about helping inventors to an audience that was largely defendants’ lawyers, and he received a huge round of applause.

  • [Avatar for Sandie]
    August 9, 2016 11:03 pm

    Ray was the best of the best. He will be greatly missed. So honored, proud and blessed that I had the opportunity to work with him and call him my friend. May his legacy, passion and larger than life personality forever be cherished by all.

  • [Avatar for Joe Hosteny]
    Joe Hosteny
    August 9, 2016 10:18 pm

    Gene — You are on the mark about Ray. Thank you for your comments.

    Joe Hosteny

  • [Avatar for Olivia Luk Bedi]
    Olivia Luk Bedi
    August 9, 2016 04:45 pm

    Thank you for putting our thoughts into words. Ray was an incredible and generous man, attorney, friend and partner.

  • [Avatar for Erin Egan]
    Erin Egan
    August 9, 2016 02:52 pm

    Thank you for writing, Gene. He truly was a “one of a kind” and those who knew him can attest to just how generous and amazing he was to everyone. He’s in our hearts forever. Rest in Peace, Ray

  • [Avatar for Jack Lu]
    Jack Lu
    August 9, 2016 02:13 pm

    Rest in peace, Ray. You will be missed by many of us in IP industry.

  • [Avatar for Curious]
    August 9, 2016 01:38 pm

    A shame. We need more attorneys who share his sentiments and are willing to make those known.