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Irell Expands IPR Practice with Former PTAB Chief Judge Michael Fleming


Irell & Manella LLP announced today that Michael R. Fleming has joined the firm as of counsel. Fleming is the former chief administrative judge for the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). His addition strengthens Irell's intellectual property practice group, specifically in the area of inter partes review (IPR) and other patent post-grant proceedings. 

Irell has successfully represented parties in numerous IPR proceedings involving technologies spanning software, life sciences, electronics and aerospace. With Fleming, Irell currently has 25 registered patent attorneys. In April 2015, the Daily Journal honored six Irell partners as among the Top 75 IP Litigators in California, which was more than any other firm. All six have worked on IPR proceedings, in addition to their litigation practices.

Fleming advises and represents clients in all areas of post-grant proceedings, appeals and PTO practice. His practice is primarily focused on the new post-grant proceedings, including inter partes review, established by the America Invents Act (AIA). As chief judge, Fleming assisted Congress in drafting the post-grant provisions of the AIA and played a critical role in the creation of the IPR statute. He advises clients in all areas of strategic patent prosecution and management. With Fleming's background in the PTO, his expertise extends to a wide range of technologies, including electrical, mechanical, chemical and life sciences fields.    

Fleming's six-year tenure as chief judge capped more than 30 years with the PTO, including 17 years as an administrative patent judge and four years as a supervisory patent examiner. He was responsible for more than three quarters of the precedential opinions at the PTAB as of the time he retired. Fleming was also involved with establishing many of the present patent procedures and policies of the PTO, including many of the PTO examination guidelines and the federal rules for patent office examination. He was awarded the Department of Commerce's prestigious Gold Medal for his work on the official examination guidelines for subject matter eligibility, which are critical to prosecuting high-tech patents. 

"Since I left the PTO, I have worked with Irell on a number of matters. It’s an excellent place to practice intellectual property at the highest level," said Fleming. "In addition to being home to some of the top patent litigators in the country, Irell has a tremendously deep bench across all practice areas."

Fleming is a frequent speaker and author on patent law topics. He earned his J.D. from George Mason University Law School in 1986 and was a member of the George Mason Law Review. Fleming earned a master's degree in electrical engineering from George Washington University in 1982 and a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1978. 

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