James Dabney has big dreams. The 53-year-old patent litigator wants to tame the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, and he wants to do it by becoming the U.S. Supreme Court IP specialist. In December the Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson partner will appear before the high court in KSR International Co. v. Teleflex Inc.

The case centers on one of the fundamental tenets of patent law: Inventions that are obvious are not patentable. According to Dabney, who is representing KSR, the Federal Circuit has been stretching the boundaries of this standard, ignoring Supreme Court precedent. The appeals court has taken “a 20-year holiday from enforcement of the standard of patentability,” he says.