The University of Akron School of Law Teams With Federal Judicial Center to Offer Unique Patent Course for Federal Judges

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Patent PendingThe trial of a patent infringement lawsuit presents unique challenges – for the litigants, counsel, the jury, and the trial judge. The cases often involve complex technology and, because the stakes are often so high, are fiercely litigated, time-consuming and very costly.

In an effort to assist trial judges in the difficult task of presiding over such lawsuits, the University of Akron School of Law’s IP Center teamed with the Federal Judicial Center, the education and research arm of the federal judiciary, to offer a unique course on the management of patent litigation. The course was offered to a select group of approximately 40 federal district court judges April 22-24 in Charleston, S.C.

 By all accounts, the program was a great success. The director of the Federal Judicial Center, United States District Judge Jeremy Fogel, indicated that the program was excellent and expressed his desire to work with the law school in the future.  

"We were very excited about the opportunity to work with the Federal Judicial Center on this new program which, we believe, has great value to federal trial judges, and would certainly welcome the opportunity to work with the Center in offering the program again in the near future,” says Professor Jeffrey M. Samuels, director of Akron Law’s Center for Intellectual Property Law and Technology. 

The program, which was developed by the law school’s distinguished practitioner-in-residence, Professor Robert C. Kahrl, provided the judges with a basic understanding of the procedural and economic principles applicable to patent litigation, the tactical issues that arise for lawyers in patent cases, and case management techniques useful for achieving efficiency in handling such cases.

The program was designed to enable judges to:

  • Develop a strategy for promoting the settlement of patent cases that is most likely to obviate the need for a trial; 
  • Recognize the best times in a case for timely intervention in seeking a resolution of a patent case without trial; 
  • Understand how the controversy stated in the pleadings of a patent case will develop into triable issues;
  • Distinguish between infringement claims that are appropriate for summary judgment and those requiring trial;
  • Recognize the relative strength and frequency of success of various defenses raised in patent cases relating to the validity or enforceability of a patent in suit;
  • Distinguish between important needs of the parties for requested items of discovery and relatively insignificant requests;
  • Estimate with fair precision the needed length of trial for a patent case regardless of the parties’ varied estimates;
  • Find technical assistance for issues that seem technically beyond comprehension;
  • Apply a methodology to correctly construe the claims of a patent in suit; and
  • Conduct a trial so as to maximize the ability of the jurors to understand the nature of the controversy and the evidence to be reviewed.

In addition to Professor Kahrl, the program was facilitated by the former chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the Hon. Paul R. Michel, who also serves on the law school’s IP Advisory Council, as well as by a number of distinguished IP litigators.  One such litigator, in a letter to Professor Kahrl, noted that “You and the University of Akron have much to be proud of.” 

The program was funded by The University of Akron School of Law, by various members of the law school’s IP Advisory Council or their firms, and by the Federal Judicial Center. The IP Council advances the law school’s IP curriculum, fosters relationships with businesses and law firms, and assists students with career planning. 

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