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From stem cells to computer chips, U.S. District Judge Roderick McKelvie in Delaware has seen it all. But come May, he will have seen the last of it, at least from the bench. That’s sad news in California’s Silicon Valley. The judge is retiring this spring, and even though the jurist sits some 3,000 miles away in a Delaware federal courtroom, he’s a favorite in the Valley. Delaware judges, and McKelvie in particular, have a reputation for smooth and speedy handling of patent litigation. Without him, patent lawyers may start strategizing on how to land cases in other jurisdictions. McKelvie joined the bench in 1992, leaving behind a litigation boutique he co-founded in 1979. He is said to be exploring opportunities in private practice. McKelvie is perhaps most widely known for his 1997 ruling that CellPro Inc. was driven by greed as it infringed upon stem-cell patents held by Johns Hopkins. Many Valley litigators liken McKelvie to U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte in San Jose, Calif. — another favorite of techies. In fact, as Weil, Gotshal & Manges partner Matthew Powers put it, McKelvie’s retirement “is as bad as if Ronald Whyte announced he were retiring.” “He cares about getting it right,” Powers said. “He’s a good, conscientious and smart, savvy judge.” For the record, Powers has a huge case pending before the judge and wants McKelvie to preside over a trial before he retires. Powers’ client, Micron Technology Inc., is suing Rambus Inc. But even lawyers who don’t have anything in front of the judge have high praise for him. Take, for instance, Charles Crompton III, a Latham & Watkins partner in Menlo Park, Calif. “He’s right there at the top of the game,” Crompton said. “There are a limited number of judges with a lot of expertise, and we just lost one.”

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