Kathleen O’Malley | Inventing America

Kathleen O’Malley

Retired Federal Circuit Judge Of Counsel, Irell & Manella

Judge Kathleen (Kate) O’Malley (Ret.) was a Federal Judge for over 27 years.  She was appointed to the District Court in 1994 at the age of 37 and was elevated to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in 2010.  Judge O’Malley is the only former District Court judge to be appointed to the CAFC.  The CAFC is the only Court of Appeals in the country that handles appeals of patent cases, presiding over appeals from all fora in which such matters originate—District Courts, the Court of Claims, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, the Patent Trial and Trademark Office, and the International Trade Commission.  She also has substantial experience with other intellectual property (IP) issues—Copyright, Trademark, Trade Secret, and the intersection of IP and antitrust—and with other areas of federal law, including securities fraud, tax matters, and mass torts.

Judge O’Malley lectures regularly on various IP topics, including the importance of IP to innovation and the importance of innovation to the economy.  Judge O’Malley has received numerous awards over these years.  For her contributions to the development of IP law alone, she has received the following: the Sedona Conference Lifetime Achievement Award, the New Jersey Intellectual Property Law Association Jefferson Medal, the New York Intellectual Property Law Association Outstanding Public Service Award, and the Intellectual Property Owners Association’s 2020 Distinguished IP Professional Award and was named to the Globe Business Media Group’s IP Hall of Fame.  The Kathleen M. O’Malley Inn of Court was recently chartered in Cleveland, Ohio, as a tribute to Judge O’Malley’s service.

Judge O’Malley is the only U.S. representative on the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) judicial advisory council, participates in WIPO’s project relating to the ethical and IP implications of artificial intelligence (AI) and, at the invitation of the Queen’s College of London, served on a committee to establish an IP court system in the Ukraine and to train the judges thereon. Judge O’Malley is currently a Senior Adviser to the Renewing American Innovation Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She has also trained judges, lawyers, and stakeholders on the U.S. IP system in over a dozen countries around the world.

In addition to her judicial duties, Judge O’Malley has been involved in numerous projects relating to the intersection of science and the law and the education of the judiciary on how best to handle and understand such issues.  At the invitation of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Technology and the Federal Judicial Center, Judge O’Malley served on the Committee on the Development of the Third Edition of the Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence and recently co-chaired a planning committee for a workshop on Emerging Areas of Sciences, Engineering, Medicine, and the Courts that explored, among other cutting edge scientific questions, legal questions relating to climate change, the ethical and IP implications of AI, implicit bias, computer science, and engineering.

Before joining the bench, Judge O’Malley served as Chief Counsel and First Assistant to the Ohio Attorney General.  She also was in private practice, litigating complex commercial matters at Jones Day and Porter Wright in Ohio.  Judge O’Malley began her legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable Nathaniel R. Jones on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  She received her A.B. in Economics and History from Kenyon College and earned her JD from Case Western Reserve University School of Law.