Delaware was already a popular venue for patent cases before the Supreme Court’s 2017 venue decision in TC Heartland. Since 2017, it has moved from popular to hot since so many companies are formally incorporated in the state. (State of incorporation => proper venue in patent cases). Delaware particularly been seen as a fair jurisdiction where both plaintiffs and defendants receive a full and fair hearing. Thus, it is a popular spot for operating companies to sue as plaintiffs, knowing that they may face affirmative counterclaims in the same lawsuit.
The Federal Court in Delaware has four judges, all of whom now have a substantial patent litigation caseload. This includes the most senior, Hon. Leonard P. Stark who was appointed by President Obama back in 2010. At the time, Joe Biden was Vice President of the United States and I am confident that he had a hand in selecting Judge Stark for that position. Judge Stark was previously a magistrate judge and an assistant US attorney, all in Federal Court in Delaware.
The White House has announced that it intends to elevate Judge Stark–nominating him to serve as a Circuit Judge on the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He will replace Judge Kathleen O’Malley who has indicated her intent to retire in March 2022. Judge O’Malley is the only current Federal Circuit judge with extensive experience at the trial court level, and Judge Stark brings that same type of background.
The following comes from the White House press release:
Judge Leonard Stark: Nominee for the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
Judge Leonard Stark has served as a United States District Court Judge for the District of Delaware since 2010. Judge Stark served as Chief Judge for the District of Delaware from July 2014 to June 2021. Previously, he served as a United States Magistrate Judge for the District of Delaware from 2007 to 2010. From 2002 to 2007, Judge Stark served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Delaware, where he worked in both the criminal and civil divisions. From 1997 to 2001, Judge Stark was an associate in the Wilmington, Delaware office of the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. He served as a law clerk for Judge Walter Stapleton on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit from 1996 to 1997.
Judge Stark received his J.D. from Yale Law School in 1996., a D. Phil. from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in 1993, and a B.A., B.S., and M.A., summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Delaware in 1991.
Congratulations Judge Stark.