“A catalyst for leading all civil litigation in the United States.” With these words Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Randall R. Rader described the Patent Pilot Program in his remarks to a packed gathering of the bench and bar of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California last week. Rader was the keynote speaker at a program hosted at Stanford Law School on Jan. 18, 2012, addressing the Northern District’s Patent Pilot Program. The Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts designated California’s Northern District as one of 14 districts chosen to participate in the pilot program.

The Pilot Program’s statutory goal is to “encourage enhancement of expertise in patent cases among district judges.” The Pilot Program has been one component of the patent reform debate since, at least, 2006. Speaking in 2009, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said that “it is widely recognized that patent litigation is too expensive, too time consuming, and too unpredictable. [This legislation] addresses these concerns by authorizing a pilot program in certain United States district courts to promote patent expertise among participating judges.” 155 Cong. Rec. H3457 (March 17, 2009)