Meredith Addy is one of the five female private-sector litigators who most frequently argued in the past decade before the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, finds a recent study of gender diversity among lawyers who handle patent cases in the nation’s courts.
AddyHart P.C. co-founder Addy also is one of only two of the five who is licensed to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“patent barred”).
The research article, “Gender Inequality in Patent Litigation” by Paul R. Guliuzza and Rachel Rebouché, professors of the Temple University School of Law, presents an empirical study of gender diversity among the lawyers who handle patent cases in the federal courts, focusing on appellate litigation at the Federal Circuit and the US Supreme Court. The dataset underpinning the authors’ analysis concerning the Federal Circuit includes all lawyers who argued patent cases before that court from 2010 through 2019.
Of the 90 lawyers who presented the most patent arguments before the Federal Circuit, the study notes, seventeen were women, of which twelve worked for the federal government. Only five of the seventeen, including Addy, represented private-sector clients.
The study’s authors conclude that women are largely absent from high-level patent litigation not because there is a paucity of women patent lawyers but because they are not being tapped to argue on behalf of private-sector litigants. The authors suggest that both incremental and structural change could bring greater diversity and equity to the patent bar.
Addy agrees that women have faced and continue to face unacknowledged presumptions about their suitability for certain kinds of work. In an interview for an article about the research published on Law360, Addy notes “One such presumption is that men make better litigators and appellate attorneys,” she says. “I disagree with that presumption. But I do believe mindsets are changing for the better.”
Addy, a deeply experienced intellectual property litigator who specializes in cases before Federal Circuit, among other patent venues, has led more than 100 Federal Circuit appeals. She also served for ten years on the Federal Circuit’s advisory council and was a member the Board of Directors for the Federal Circuit Bar Association.
Addy advises women attorneys seeking higher profile patent appellate work to take the initiative to build credibility and a track record of success. One way she gained experience at the Federal Circuit was by clerking for former Chief Judge Paul R. Michel. “It was an unparalleled opportunity to do intellectually challenging work, gain a more thorough understanding of the law, and build important relationships,” Addy says. “I learned so much.”
Addy notes that she also raised her profile through pro bono appellate work, by volunteering to work on such cases through her firm and by taking on pro bono veterans’ appeals at the Federal Circuit.
Says Addy, “I fundamentally believe that the work we do creates the opportunities we need to succeed, not just as women lawyers, but as lawyers generally. And I hope businesses pay closer attention to equitable hiring decisions for big-ticket litigation, including for their patent appeals.”