Day one of IPWatchdog LIVE 2021 in Dallas, Texas, kicked off on Sunday, September 12, with a fireside chat between David Henry of sponsor Gray Reed and Judge Alan Albright of the United States’ most high-profile district patent court; panels on patent monetization and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) post-Arthrex; and IPWatchdog’s first ever Paul Michel Award, which went to David Kappos of Cravath Swaine & Moore.
Judge Albright of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas told attendees that, as someone who was trying patent cases more than 20 years ago, he is somewhat unique among district court judges, and that “doing my best at patent cases is in my DNA.” He added: “I’m a big advocate of the patent system. I’ve tried to give as much predictability as I can.”
Albright, who said he considers himself to have the best job in the world, explained that his key goals have been transparency and predictability. He noted that, in 2020, his court had twice as many Markman hearings on the docket as the Northern District of California, and that he has managed to keep timings to under 24 months for jury trials and within eight months for Markman hearings. “I’m perceived to be a lawyer’s judge,” Albright said. “If you have a really good patent lawyer, they’ll be able to tell you how I feel about things.”
Later in the evening, Retired Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Paul Michel (participating by phone) introduced the first ever honoree of IPWatchdog’s Paul Michel Award, David Kappos, former Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, calling Kappos “the principal guardian of the U.S. patent system.”
The Paul Michel Award was created by IPWatchdog Founder and CEO, Gene Quinn, who said that Judge Michel “has been a leader in the patent world and a mentor to me and many.” He and Judge Michel chose Kappos as the inaugural award recipient in recognition of Kappos’ contribution to IP across the many roles he’s played.
In addition to his position as partner at Cravath, Michel said Kappos has served as a “behind the scenes” educator of Congress and Presidential Administration officials; he was integral to the valiant recent efforts to reform patent eligibility law; and he is an avid speaker and author across IP conferences and publications. “What role in the IP drama does he not play?” asked Michel. “It’s really hard to think of one.”
In accepting the award, Kappos thanked IPWatchdog’s Gene and Renee Quinn for their leadership and honesty in the IP world as well, and also thanked Judge Albright for being “a federal district judge who’s willing to step up and do things the right way.” He also encouraged attendees to take part in “pro bono advocacy”, explaining that it is key to change.
“It’s never been easier and there are lots of opportunities,” Kappos said. “Our system is under tremendous stress. We need to answer the assaults and challenges, and we need people in this room to speak up and get involved on a service basis.”
Photos by TMD Enterprises/ Charlene Williams