Human Resources and Law

Law firm enlists ex-patent judge

July 1, 2014
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Law firm enlists ex-patent judge
Stuart Levy. Courtesy Price Heneveld

A former judge with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has joined a local intellectual property law firm.

Price Heneveld in Grand Rapids said last week that Stuart Levy has joined the firm as an attorney.

Levy spent 35 years at the USPTO, serving as an administrative patent judge for more than seven years.

He also served as a supervisory patent examiner and a primary patent examiner during his tenure.

He retired from the USPTO in 2007 and joined the law firms Sughrue Mion and Oblon Spivak, where he served as of counsel.

Complex prosecution

Price Heneveld said Levy’s “sophisticated understanding of the patent prosecution complexities at the USPTO is a critical advantage” to the firm’s clients.

Levy will assist the firm in difficult prosecution matters, including handling appeals, re-issues, Ex parte re-examinations and post grant proceedings.

Levy said he was familiar with Price Heneveld and was interested in moving to the Midwest.

“I’ve been in the D.C. area for 42 years, and I knew Todd Van Thomme, who is one of the partners with the firm, for many years,” Levy said. “I thought it might be interesting to try something different, a more laid-back approach of the Midwest and see what it was like.”

“First to file”

Levy said there have been many changes in patent law since the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act became law in 2011.

The law changed the U.S. patent system from “first to invent” to “first to file.”

Levy also said the way people are inventing has changed dramatically since he started his career, which has also impacted patent law.

“Many years ago, inventions were mainly made in the foundry,” Levy said. “Now, inventions are coming out of people’s mind. They develop software, they run machines in different ways. The general purpose computers become special purpose computers.”

U.S. patents

During his time as a judge, Levy decided patent appeals in approximately 2,000 cases involving electrical and computer technologies, business methods and mechanical technologies.

While at the USPTO, Levy served as a chair of the 80-member Manual of Patent Examining Procedure Revision Committee, leading more than 18 USPTO teams in a five year comprehensive revision of patent examination guidelines, practices and procedures.

Levy received numerous awards for his work at the USPTO.

He and his team received, from the National Performance Review, Vice President Al Gore’s Hammer Award — for creating a government that works better and costs less — for their role in creating the acclaimed Patent Assistance Center, which is now called the Inventors Assistance Center.

He has also received four Medal Awards from the Department of Commerce.

Education

Levy earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the City College of New York, before earning his law degree from George Mason University School of Law.

He also holds a certificate in advanced public management from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.

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