According to yesterday’s Chicago Daily Law Bulletin — Trial Courts May Take on Patent Cases (subscription required, but a free, 15-day trial is available) — the Northern District of Illinois judges are split on the value of a proposed pilot program. The program would provide judges who volunteer to take patent cases with extra training and the assistance of specialized law clerks. Cases would continue to be randomly assigned. But after a patent case was randomly assigned, if the assigned judge rejected the case it would be reassigned to a judge participating in the patent program.
Chief Judge Holderman is a proponent of the pilot program. Chief Judge Holderman explained that the system would benefit the patent bar and that is not new to the federal courts because senior judges already have the option of rejecting cases, which are then reassigned. You can read more about Chief Judge Holderman’s views on patent litigation in the district courts in an article he recently authored with his law clerk, Halley B. Guren, advocating, among other things, providing district judges with specialized patent training and reassigning patent cases to those judges — "The Patent Litigation Predicament in the United States."*
Judge Kocoras, on the other hand, is "not crazy about" the program, believing that district judges are generalists who "should all take the luck of the draw." He sees the patent pilot program opening the door to other areas of specialization among Article III judges.
Judge Moran likes the program and says he would volunteer for it. Although, he notes that allowing "judges over 50 [to] handle computer software issues may be a violation of due process."
* The link is to a draft of the article which is in the process of being finalized for publication in the University of Illinois’s Journal of Law, Technology & Policy.