Sexism in Patent Practice

I’m attending the Federal Circuit Bar Association’s annual Bench & Bar, speaking tomorrow on ethics. Last night, had a great time visiting with a number of great lawyers, many of them highly experienced women.

What I heard shocked me.

Each of the women in the conversation were very successful in their careers. Each was in a different place — in-house, government, private practice.  Each had different practice backgrounds, ranging from due diligence/MA type stuff, to litigation, to prosecution.

All shared stories of appalling sexism. Each had been taken as the assistant for the actual lawyer. Each had been called things like “missy” and the like.  And each had experienced this at high levels of practice, in recent years, not at some point long ago.

I know that bad behavior occurs, but I was floored by some of the specific stories — can’t share because of confidentiality — but we can do better!

About David

Professor of Law, Mercer University School of Law. Formerly Of Counsel, Taylor English Duma, LLP and in 2012-13, judicial clerk to Chief Judge Rader.

5 thoughts on “Sexism in Patent Practice

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    Who is this referring to: “but we can do better!”?

    I treat men and women with professionalism, nothing but. I have also seen some sexist behavior occasionally from both men and women. If you are singling out men for some reason, you are engaging in sexist behavior.

    I’m also curious as to why you cannot express some of the “shocking stories” in a general way. Where does the “confidentiality” come from? Are you representing them in some kind of Title IX suit?

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    For an attitude changer, Read the Honor Harrington series by David Weber. She is portrayed the Admiral Nelson of the future. Inspiring.

    1. 1.1

      I am reading a great book now, and will put that on the list. I’m reading a book called (something like) the truth about dishonesty. Fascinating read.

      1. 1.1.1

        To be honest, there is quite a lot of dishonesty that is perpetrated as “philosophy” or “opinion” concerning patent law itself.

        Drive-by monologuers do not seem to care.


          You should read this book. We’re all basically dishonest to the degree that we can still feel good about ourselves. It’s fascinating.

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