Transitions: Hal Wegner

by Dennis Crouch

I am one of the many followers of the prolific and outspoken patent guru and professor Harold C. Wegner.  Well before the Internet and blogs arrived, “Hal” Wegner was writing articles and distributing his views on patent cases and patent law policy.  Soon after I started Patently-O, Wegner stopped by my MBHB office for the first of our many visits together. Over the years, Wegner has helped me in myriad ways and I am glad to have him as a friend and mentor.  Even when it is painfully sharp, his insight is usually exactly on target.

This month marks two major milestones for Hal Wegner.  First, he is retiring from the Foley & Lardner law firm after two decades as a partner. He previously ran his own DC-based law firm for more than a decade and will once again open his own consultancy – this time out of his Naples Florida office.  Second – and perhaps more important for many of his readers – a the end of the month Hal is discontinuing his popular “Top Ten” patent cases and daily commentary on patent developments.  In his next iteration, Wegner is looking to focus more in depth in a set of patent practice monographs. Congratulations Hal!

Here at Patently-O, we are looking forward to continuing in Wegner’s tradition next year in at least one way – featuring our own authorized version of Wegner’s Top Ten list of pending cases.

23 thoughts on “Transitions: Hal Wegner

  1. 8

    Prof. Wegner has settled down to live in Italy. He can still be reached by his Foley & Lardner e-mail address. I last exchanged e-mails with him, about three months ago.

  2. 7

    Congratulations and best wishes to Hal for his at least partial retirement. I am certain that in his (alleged) retirement he will continue to give powerful insight on the practice of our profession

  3. 5

    It was intrigued by Zoll Lifecor being on the list. It is a important case.

    link to

    Decision below:
    link to

    The petition raises issues of appealability of a non-institution decision under 312(a)(2) and 315(b). Zoll Lifecor is a subsidiary of Zoll Medical. Zoll Medical was sued by Philips for patent infringement under a number of patents two years prior to the filing of the IPRs of the patents in suit. Zoll Lifecor was sued and served one year prior to the filing of the IPRs. The PTO dismissed the IPRs because Zoll Medical was served more than a year prior to the filing of the IPRs and Zoll Lifecor was deemed to be a privy of an unidentified real party in interest (Zoll Medical) because of “control.”

    The substantive basis of the petition is that control is only a “factor” and not the legal “standard.” The legal standard (privity) is whether collateral estoppel would apply to Zoll Lifecor with respect to a judgment against its parent Zoll Medical. Also, the PTO prohibited Zoll Lifecor from submitting any testimonial evidence, and then found in favor of Phillips in part because Zoll Lifecor had submitted no evidence in support of its position.

    The Federal Circuit dismissed an appeal based upon St. Jude Medical, a case that held that non-institution decision’s are not appealable both because the statutes allegedly “only” permit an appeal from a final written decision and because of §314(d). The petition, takes issue, and presents a very cogent argument against the Federal Circuit position, particularly because the word “only” does not appear in the statutes as found by the Federal Circuit, and because the Federal Circuit rule reads “under this section” out of 314(d).

  4. 4

    This is very welcome news! I was concerned about what I was going to do in the new year without Hal’s Top Ten. Thank you, Dennis, for carrying on with this terrific resource.

  5. 3

    Congrats to Hal on his retirement! Writing a patent monograph seems like way less fun than learning how to paint or play the trombone but obviously he’s got the bug.

    Re this: Well before the Internet and blogs arrived, “Hal” Wegner was writing articles and distributing his views on patent cases and patent law policy.

    From a historical perspective, I’m curious: when did Hal start doing this and who else was doing it (i.e., sending out patent-related emails as a “newsletter”)?

    1. 3.1

      Just out of curiosity I looked on the Way Back Machine and this blog started 10 years ago come February.

      1. 3.1.1

        OT, but I think Ned you are right when you said that 101 for information processing will be either technical improvement at EPO type of analysis or Diehr. That is what I am finding in my practice and I find thinking about it like that helps.


            Doesn’t mean I agree with it, but I do think that is where the law is converging right now.

            The question will become what exactly is tangible to get integrated with. For example, does an interface count?

                1. Agreed Night Writer, and I meant no disagreement with you.

                  As long as In re Nuitjen remains good law, the law itself rests on a poor understanding of basic physics.

                  Tonight, of all nights, look up into the clear night sky for the sign that the notion of “transience” is sorely misapplied.


          How is information processing related to Diehr for 101? That is, what are you adding to get your claims in the Diehr format?


            Attach the information processing to something tangible that the information processing is working with. Integrate it.


          I remember in the spring of 2005 MM and NAL battling it out about the way you and MM battle it out.


            Recent revelations concerning “the ecosystem” here place the blight (the exact same blight even earlier…

    2. 3.2

      MM, since my post in the Guidelines thread was held up by the moderator, it never saw the light of day. So, I reposted it, but since everyone has moved on from Guidelines thread, no one has given the question an answer.

      Question is here: link to

      It is a simple question, but the answer might be complex:

      If DNA shorn of surrounding material is not eligible, why is adrenaline shorn of surrounding material?

    3. 3.3

      MM, Hal lost me when he headlined Bilski by saying that business methods remain eligible. He also repeatedly said that programmed computers were eligible. Wegner was part of the problem, Malcolm.

      1. 3.3.1

        Hal is ‘lost’ to Ned with a correct view of Bilski (4, which now post-Alice is 3, just was not 5), and the likes of 6 become genius when they align with Ned’s IMHO Law.

        Any intellectually honest person can readily see the problem with this.

  6. 2

    Thank you very much for offering to continue Hal’s handy hot-list of important cases pending decisons on en banc or cert petitions.

  7. 1

    I was reading the last Wegner Top Ten, and had gotten to the part where he said that there was no longer a need for this wonderful resource he had provided for all of these years. “No longer a need?!?,” I thought to myself.

    So glad to see that he has passed the torch to your capable hands.

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