Earlier this year, during the first live program held in IPWatchdog’s brand new offices in Ashburn, Virginia, the inaugural inductees to the IPWatchdog Masters™ Hall of Fame were honored as a tribute to their long histories of service to strengthening and protecting U.S. IP rights. The inaugural class of inductees included: Honorable Paul Michel, Retired Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) and tireless IP advocate; Sherry Knowles of Knowles Intellectual Property Strategies; and Phil Johnson, Chair of the Steering Committee for the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform and retired Senior Vice President, Intellectual Property Policy & Strategy of Johnson & Johnson’s Law Department.
As I told the audience on October 25 at IPWatchdog headquarters, “When IAM inducted Justice Breyer into their Hall of Fame, I decided they were not taking the IP Hall of Fame seriously anymore. Because, frankly, I wouldn’t ever invite him to speak at one of our programs; he doesn’t know enough about intellectual property to fill a thimble.” So, I am going to have a Hall of Fame of real IP professionals; people who mean something to me, people I want you to hear from, and people who have really impacted the IP community. People who not only contribute to the field, but who also help set the debate—real thought leaders and industry icons who take the time to participate.
The launch of the IPWatchdog Masters™ Hall of Fame was not publicized in advance or created with great fanfare because I wanted to surprise the initial inductees, all of whom have been friends and mentors for many years. “Not only do you mean something to the entire industry, but you mean something to me personally, and I appreciate you very much,” I told the inductees that day.
IPWatchdog congratulates these IP heroes and looks forward to honoring more inductees in the years to come. Obviously, since this is just the beginning, there are many individuals who are deserving of inclusion and who will be added in the years to come. The term “masters” in the name is intended to be a direct link to the IPWatchdog Masters™ Series of events, and we will continue to periodically add to the Hall of Fame throughout 2023 during our Masters programming.
Judge Paul Michel needs no introduction to anyone in the IP realm. But perhaps just as impressive as his storied career as a judge and chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has been his tireless commitment to dedicating his retirement to educating policymakers and courts on the importance of upholding a strong IP system to U.S. competitiveness and national security. In the last several years, he has been the author of countless op-eds, articles and amicus briefs; he has testified before congress; he has joined organizations dedicated to countering anti-IP narratives and generally has been a true champion of IP rights.
Judge Michel was appointed to the Federal Circuit in March of 1988 by President Ronald Reagan and assumed the duties of Chief Judge on December 25, 2004. Judge Michel stepped down from the bench on May 31, 2010, after serving more than 22 years on the court. During his tenure with the CAFC, he judged thousands of appeals and wrote over 800 opinions, approximately one-third of which were in patent cases. Read Judge Michel’s full bio here.
Sherry Knowles is an icon in the patent world. As Senior Vice President and Chief Patent Counsel at GlaxoSmithKline from 2006-2010, Knowles played a key role in the case of GlaxoSmithKline and Tafas v. Dudas, when GSK became the first and only company in the United States to file a lawsuit to challenge the Final Rules on Claims and Continuations practice published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on August 7, 2007. During the course of the litigation, 20 amicus briefs were filed by parties in support of GSK and Dr. Tafas. The litigation concluded in October 2009, when former USPTO Director David Kappos made the decision to withdraw the contested regulations and GSK agreed to join with the USPTO in a motion to dismiss all litigation.
Since leaving GSK, Knowles has continued to be a thought leader and advocate for IP rights. She is currently the Principal of Knowles Intellectual Property Strategies and continues to write and speak out on issues of importance to the IP community. When a group of senators recently sent a letter to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Director Kathi Vidal expressing concern about so-called “patent thickets” and requesting that she consider changes to the USPTO regulations and practices to address perceived problems with patent examination, Knowles reminded the Office that the injunction issued in the GSK/Tafas case remains in place. She also launched the Knowles Educational and Charitable Trust for International Leadership (KECTIL), a nonprofit whose mission is “to identify and nurture highly talented youth in developing countries who have the potential to make a positive difference in their communities and countries.”
Phil Johnson was for two decades one of the preeminent patent litigators in America. Johnson then transitioned into the corporate world and became one of the leading in-house attorneys, and a prominent voice for the patent system throughout the years.
Johnson joined Johnson & Johnson as Chief Patent Counsel in 2000 and ended his 17-year tenure with the company in 2017 as Senior Vice President, Intellectual Property Policy & Strategy, Law Department. He also has served as Chair of the Steering Committee for the Coalition for 21st Century Patent Reform since 2019, an organization that was integral to negotiations on the America Invents Act and today continues to be active in legislative and policy developments around U.S. patent reform. Johnson has also been an active member of the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) for 16 years and has held many positions with the organization and has also been an active member of the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the Sedona Conference WG10 biopharmaceutical patent litigation project, a member of the board of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, INTERPAT, the Association of Corporate Patent Counsel, and PhRMa. He has frequently testified before both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees about patent law reform and, more recently, abusive patent litigation.