Sharon Prost took the helm of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit seven years ago in stormy seas.

Some members of the court were openly battling with the Supreme Court about patent eligibility and other intellectual property issues, leading to increasing scrutiny from the justices. The Federal Circuit’s own attempt to forge a consensus on eligibility led to a nightmare of six concurring, dissenting and reflecting opinions from the denial of en banc review in a 2013 case. Over the next 12 months, then-Chief Judge Randall Rader would publicly criticize “patent trolls” in the New York Times, compare U.S. Patent and Trademark Office administrative judges to a “death squad” for patent rights, and then leave the court suddenly under an ethical cloud.

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