Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Acting Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks Q. Todd Dickinson issued the following statement in connection with Wednesday's death of Judge Giles S. Rich, the most tenured member of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
"All of us at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) are greatly saddened to learn of the death of Judge Rich. Judge Rich was the single most important figure in twentieth century intellectual property law. His life's work will illuminate the American patent system for decades to come. Judge Rich had the rare opportunity to witness the century of ingenuity that made America the greatest nation in the world. He devoted his career to protecting and nurturing the genius behind the technology that advanced this nation from the Industrial Age to the Age of Information.
At the time of his death, Judge Rich was the oldest active federal judge in U.S. history. His age, however, was never reflected in his opinions. His view on the patentability of software, one of today's most contentious patent issues, was far more expansive than that of colleagues scores younger. Judge Rich leaves a rich legacy in his voluminous body of judicial opinions and in the 1952 Patent Act which he helped to draft. We have lost the dean of the twentieth century patent system."
The PTO is the Commerce Department's user fee-funded bureau that administers laws relevant to granting patents and registering trademarks; advises the secretary of commerce, the president of the United States, and the administration on patent, trademark and copyright protection; and advises the secretary of commerce, the president of the United States, and the administration on the trade-related aspects of intellectual property. Nearly 6 million patents for inventions have been issued since the first patent in 1790. Last year PTO issued 155,000 patents and registered 106,279 trademarks.