Chief Judge Paul Michel will be retiring from the bench later this month after more than twenty-two years on the bench and five as the chief judge. He recently offered his annual “state of the court” address at the court’s annual judicial conference. [Read Judge Michel’s remarks].
As Chief, Judge Michel has taken a specific interest in ensuring that the court runs efficiently and quickly. His remarks:
By every measure our decisions continue to be issued more rapidly. As a result, our inventory of pending appeals has dropped from over 1,400 just a few years ago to only 819 as of April 30. Indeed, as of October 1, 2009 it was 897, so the reductions continue.
One benefit is that we hear cases more quickly. In Fiscal year 2006, for example, only 49% of ready cases could be scheduled for argument without delay. By last year, the number was 84%. This year it will likely rise even further.
Another metric we watch is the percentage of appeals decided within 90 days of argument. This number has ranged recently from 75 to 83%. Likely it will reach 85% this year.
Judge Michel also briefly discussed the pending en banc cases:
Last October we agreed to rehear en banc Princo v. ITC, involving a patent misuse defense based on a patent pool licensing agreement. Argument was held in March. [This case was argued by Edward DuMont. DuMont has been nominated to fill Judge Michel’s place on the bench]
In February, we granted rehearing en banc in Hyatt v. Kappos, asking the parties to brief any limitations on admissibility of evidence in § 145 patenting actions in district court. Argument is scheduled for July 8.
In March, we agreed to rehear Slattery v. United States, a Winstar case, asking whether the FDIC is a non-appropriated funds instrumentality and how the answer to that affects the jurisdiction of the Court of Federal Claims.
In April we granted rehearing en banc in Therasense v. Becton, Dickinson, in which we will reconsider the standards for determining inequitable conduct.
This month, we granted rehearing in TiVo v. Echostar, concerning when contempt proceedings are appropriate as opposed to a new infringement trial on a product that has been altered after the original was found to infringe.
And of course all eyes are on the impending decision in In Re Bilski, concerning the test for patent eligibility.
Although stepping-down from the bench, Chief Judge Michel is “not retiring, but merely changing mission.” He reports that he expects to play a greater role for campaigning for stronger support the courts and USPTO and may also spend some time as a mediator.