Profiles in IP Law: An Interview with Judge James Smith, Chief Administrative Patent Judge, United States Patent and Trademark Office

Vol. 5 No. 2


Denise DeFranco is a partner at Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she has been representing companies in patent infringement litigation in both trial and appellate courts for two decades. She can be reached at

Chief Judge James Donald Smith was appointed to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences as the Chief Administrative Patent Judge effective May 2011. He received a Juris Doctor degree from the School of Law at Duke University and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland at College Park.

Judge Smith has had a long career in the law and in intellectual property, including a brief time as an examiner at the USPTO. A former assistant dean of the law school at Emory University in Atlanta, Smith also served as a clerk at the Federal Circuit to the now-retired Chief Judge Paul Michel, as a patent litigator and patent prosecutor, and led international licensing and day-to-day management of in-house IP teams for three multinational corporations—Lexmark, Nokia, and most recently Baxter International, where he served as associate general counsel and chief intellectual property counsel.

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