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Randall Rader: Defender of the patent system

The chief judge of the US patent court says the economy depends on patents

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Professor, author, rock star

Professor, author and sometime rock star, to the patent bar Randall Rader is primarily chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit – the country's authoritative voice (second, that is, to the Supreme Court) on all things patents. In recent years, the Federal Circuit has presided over feuds on breast cancer gene patents (The Association for Molecular Pathology v the USPTO) and the patent eligibility of diagnostic method claims (Prometheus v Mayo), and is due to issue opinions on joint infringement (Akamai Technologies v Limelight Networks and McKesson Technologies v Epic Systems Corp) this year.


"Innovation is still the key to our recovery, our economy depends on patents"


Born in 1949 in Hastings, Nebraska, Rader studied English at Brigham Young University before earning his law degree at The George Washington University Law School. In 1990, George HW Bush appointed him to the patent court, where he rose to the top job in 2010 upon chief judge Paul Michel's retirement. An avid professor of intellectual property, Rader has taught at his alma mater as well as the University of Virginia School of Law, Munich Intellectual Property Law Center, Georgetown University Law Center, and universities in Beijing and Tokyo.

A staunch defender of the patent system, Rader believes the creation of the Federal Circuit helped lift the US economy from the recession of the early 1980s to its heydays in the 1990s. "That story has some modern application; innovation is still the key to our recovery, our economy depends on patents," Rader once told Managing IP. "Renewed commitment to the principles of innovation can give us the same result again."

Further reading:

Prometheus reiterates broad patent eligibility standard

Lawyers react to Myriad decision

Interview: Randall Rader on the CAFC’s history

Judge Rader defends the patent system

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