Skeptics of the state of the U.S. patent and IP regime who regard the whole farrago as a happy hunting ground for trolls will feel even more vindicated by the latest developments following the resignation and subsequent retirement of Randall Rader, formerly chief justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the highest court in the patent law system. The Court of Appeals has just ordered a public reprimand for Edward Reines, a patent lawyer with Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, and recipient of some laudatory emails from Rader that led to the latter’s resignation.
“It is hereby ordered, adjudged, and decreed that Edward R. Reines, a member of the bar of this court, is publicly reprimanded for his misconduct in disseminating an email to clients and prospective clients that he received from then-Chief Judge Rader,” reads the judgement, which also quotes Rader’s original comments: “You were alone and IMPRESSIVE in every way … I was really proud to be your friend today! You bring great credit on yourself and all associated with you! And actually I not only do not mind, but encourage you to let others see this message. Your friend for life, rrr.”
Whether anyone anywhere ought to be ashamed of the level of unction displayed in that email is one thing. As a message from the presiding judge in a regulatory regime to one of the advocates under his jurisdiction, it surely is inappropriate, and Rader stepped down from the bench and soon after withdrew from the profession once it became public. Now it seems even the Court of Appeals itself has decided to pursue everyone else involved.
Just how deep does a culture of collusion and lax oversight run within the U.S. patent and IP system? Obviously, I’ve no idea, but I do see some very worrying symptoms here, and I can only hope that new precedents and reforms that push back against patent litigants continue to deliver results.