Judge Richard Linn has announced his intention to take “senior status” effective November 1, 2012. Judge Linn has been sitting as a circuit court judge on the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit since January 1, 2000. Judge Linn is a longtime patent attorney and began his patent law career as an examiner at the United States Patent & Trademark Office in 1965 – working while also attending Georgetown University Law Center. He holds a degree in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic. In recent years, Judge Linn has been instrumental in developing an alliance of intellectual property focused inns of court known as the “Linn Inn Alliance.”
On the bench, Judge Linn has always been skeptical of novel legal theories. It is fair to place him on the “pro-patentee” side of the bench – especially based upon his notion of broad subject matter eligibility and a high bar for inequitable conduct findings. Judge Linn authored almost 300 patent decisions and his voice of reason will certainly be missed.
Judges on senior status continue to hear cases, but typically with a reduced docket. Those judges are also allowed under the law to move outside of the DC area. Of key importance, his senior status will open a seat on the 12-member bench for an additional nominee. The seat created by Chief Judge Michel’s 2010 retirement also remains open. Edward DuMont was originally nominated for the slot by President Obama, but that nomination rescinded after the Senate failed to even schedule a hearing. In November 2011, President Obama nominated Richard Taranto for the slot. The Senate is expected to eventually confirm the Taranto nomination, but that work might be delayed until after the November election.
Judges Newman, Lourie, Bryson, and Dyk are all eligible to take senior status.