Tiffany Cunningham: Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Tiffany Cunningham: Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

Tiffany P. Cunningham has been a partner at Perkins Coie LLP in Chicago, Illinois since 2014. She is a member of the Patent Litigation practice and serves on the 17-member Executive Committee of the firm. Ms. Cunningham serves as trial and appellate counsel for large multinational companies, as well as small enterprises, and individuals in complex patent and trade secret disputes.

Ms. Cunningham is a registered patent attorney before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. From 2002 to 2014, she worked in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP as an associate until she was elevated to partner in 2007. Ms. Cunningham began her legal career as a law clerk to Judge Timothy B. Dyk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit from 2001 to 2002. Ms. Cunningham received her J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2001 and her S.B. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1998.


31 thoughts on “Tiffany Cunningham: Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

  1. 10

    The most consequential issue facing the CAFC – is the issue of the novel privy courts – the new administrative courts which will grow by leaps and bounds under the Oil States holding. I wonder if she will get a question on privy courts at her confirmation.

  2. 9

    This look like it might be OK. But we don’t know what her views on patents are–at least I don’t.

    I knew two of Obama’s appointments before he appointed them to the CAFC and they were both virulently anti-patent personally and it would be hard to tell that from their webpage.

    I think it is prudent to withhold judgment until we see more.

    1. 9.1

      She’s got a registration #, so she is already more qualified than some of that bench.

  3. 8

    I support any judicial nominee like Tiffany who is actually qualified to sit on the bench that hears patent cases. It is shocking there is not a court solely devoted to patent law precedent considering approximately 90% of our US economy is the intellectual property worth of the US businesses. Many judges on the Federal Circuit do not come from a technical education background and we need more scientists and engineers on the bench.

  4. 7

    Congratulations Tiffany! Well earned and well-deserved.

    I know I speak for all inventors — and especially the 1,000’s of beleaguered independent inventors and smaller, innovative companies — when I respectfully request, hope, and indeed pray that you will do what you can to return the Court to the very limited patent eligibility exclusions that the Supreme Court intended with their Mayo and Alice decisions (while noting that SCOTUS themselves usurped a responsibility which under our Constitution is Congress’ alone).

    As you no doubt know given your years of real-world “in the trenches” experience, American innovation is suffering. Badly.

    Please be one of the too-few bright lights in the darkness that is American eligibility jurisIMprudence.

    1. 7.1

      “the very limited patent eligibility exclusions that the Supreme Court intended with their Mayo and Alice decisions”

      Isn’t any argument for “limited” judicial exceptions based on the text of those decisions rather grossly outweighed by the Court’s repeated declination to correct the CAFC’S interpretations?

      Not to say there’s no reason to be unhappy with 101. I just don’t understand being so desperate to believe that SCOTUS is on your side when they’ve had tons of opportunity to make that clear if it was true.

      1. 7.1.1


        You are correct and SCOTUS is simply NOT on his side.

        Pro Say’s tendencies have been taken to task many times now.

        This is another.

        Full fault for the START of this mess rests entirely with the Supreme Court.



          “You are correct and SCOTUS is simply NOT on his side.”

          I’ve never said or even inferred such. You know that. I’ve repeatedly pointed out that what they did is unconstitutional.

          My obvious point is that if the CAFC had followed SCOTUS’s explicit Mayo / Alice eligibility test, innovation wouldn’t be in the mess it is.

          What you’ve been taken to task for — by many who frequent these boards — is your stubborn refusal to see the value in getting the CAFC to do what they’re supposed to be doing regarding eligibility.

          While you want — apparently — only the perfect (SCOTUS overruling themselves (good luck with that); or Congress fixing the problem (only slightly better odds)) — the rest of the IP world would — like me — be thrilled to “settle” for the good (CAFC following SCOTUS).

          While you continue to argue for the perfect, American innovations are being destroyed left and right.

          Embrace the good, my friend.

          Embrace the good.


            CAFC has been following the USSC.

            The lack of consistency doing so is part and parcel of the problem created by the USSC.


            It seems like you want to believe in a “narrow Alice” so that the CAFC can change their ways and make things better, whereas if “broad Alice” is correct, the CAFC is powerless to fix things.

            My question remains, why should we believe in “narrow Alice” when SCOTUS has had many opportunities to cram “narrow Alice” down the throats of the CAFC but consistently declines to do so? Surely at that point, their silence suggests that “broad Alice” is correct?


              It is NOT a question of “narrow Alice” versus “broad Alice.”

              There is no such thing as one or the other at the CAFC.

              Instead, it is both – and at the same time.

              Let’s NOT pretend that the case law is anything but one jumbled knot – a Gordian Knot.

              And let’s not pretend that this is merely coming from me – as this view has been expressed by leaders of all three branches.

    1. 6.2

      Interesting link but fail to see how it applies here – we are not and should not be discussing critical race theory here.

      1. 6.2.1

        I didn’t see the link as having to do much with CRT, just a discussion about qualifications and jurisprudential leanings similar to that going on here. Maybe it’s directing me to somewhere different from you.


          I somewhat retract my comment – much of the discussion directly at your link is exactly as you say. Night writer changed the discussion below your link (so earlier it seems in the way comments posted here?)

      2. 6.2.2

        Daniel, the link should be to a specific post.

        The intrusion on Critical Race Theory is entirely separate, and not what the link is presented for.

  5. 5

    I am unsure if we can say law firms are well connected with any political party really as in my experience law firms employ people with diverse political views. I know my firm has people running the full gambit of political views. Otherwise though I agree amazing qualifications – it will be interesting to look at her work see if she is pro or anti patent Harvard is generally not patent maximalist I believe but been a bit since she was there.

    1. 5.1

      I’ll take your word about it for your firm since it hasn’t been identified (totally understandable of course), but when it comes to the Kirklands and Perkins Coies of the world, yes we can say it, and it’s hardly a new thing.

      As I said, she would still be obviously qualified on the merits even if she worked at Bob and Martha’s House of Patents and All-You-Can-Eat Wings somewhere in rural IL.

      1. 5.1.1

        HA! Now I want to open such a law firm – it would be like the law firm in that odd show (title I can not remember) that was above a shoe store. My firm wouldn’t be a name you would recognize as small state wide only patent boutique. I would expect though larger firms to have even more diversity of political belief – I may be wrong though self selection being a thing and there are certainly firms I think of as conservative.


          Oh yes, Harry’s Law. I never watched it, but I remember when it came out and I had two thoughts at the time: (1) the producers didn’t seem to think a show about IP law would entertain, so they made it about criminal defense instead—can’t really fault them for that I guess and (2) it didn’t seem that promising a concept regardless—and in fact it barely made it two seasons. Also, the shoe store conceit was a bit of an homage to the Simpsons because I Can’t Believe It’s A Law Firm also doubled as a cobbler shop.

          Anyhow, like I said, many other folks besides me have been making the same observations about places like Kirkland and Perkins Coie for a long time—it’s not a critique, just an observation of what’s obviously going on at those firms. It’s also not a commentary on every single attorney and/or staffer who works at those places, nor is it incompatible with many or most firms—big and small—not having any particular partisan leaning. Again, it’s just a recognition of reality.


            Ah yes Harry’s law! Thanks! I watched a couple seasons and though I found it better than most law shows (I remember going back and trying to watch law and order after law school and having to stop – and don’t get me started on Suits) I thought it was a reasonably accurate on life though quirky. I grew up watching picket fences and x-files so quirky is good for me.

            A show about IP law might be interesting – I remember at least one episode in the good wife that dealt with patent law that I didn’t much like not sure many other legal shows did one. Suits had a phone patent episode didn’t it?

            Ek ok need to work stop blog lurking…


              Quirky is a plus in my book. I’ll withhold judgment (no pun) until I actually watch some episodes.

              I think a decent movie could be made about an epic patent litigation battle. After all, movies have already been made about CDO trading (The Big Short) and social media sites (The Social Network), so why not patents. If you have one of the parties be an obvious fictional stand-in for Apple, that would attract the Apple junkies out there. A TV show on patent law cases seems hard to sustain for a meaningful number of episodes though.

      2. 5.1.2

        Interesting point here on qualifications and an unstated privilege that permeates the upper echelons of law:

        Call it the Ivy League Privilege.

        Why is it that we have such an untoward concentration of Ivy League law grads permeating the “Ladders of Advancement” in legal circles?

        See link to

        Until just recently, with Justice Barrett, every Justice was an Ivy Leaguer.

  6. 4

    Perkins Coie is of course well connected to the Democratic Party, although I don’t believe she’s personally involved much in those activities. That’s ironic because Kirkland is the opposite with its heavy Republican ties. I don’t mean to suggest any of that influenced her nomination either.

    Also, in the last paragraph, second sentence, would it read better if worded something like: “From 2002 to 2014, she worked in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, first as an associate and then as a partner following her elevation in 2007.”

    1. 1.1

      Indeed, especially when you consider that for many years most CCPA and CAFC appointees from both parties had no direct patent practice or even trial practice experience, and quite a few were just former Congressional staff members.

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