08/27/2018

A Tribute to Judge Giles S. Rich


 

A Tribute to Judge Giles S. Rich

A Tribute to Judge Giles S. Rich

John F. Witherspoon

One summer night in 1926, while staying at the Willard Hotel, Giles Sutherland Rich made a decision that set in motion a chain of events that account for our being here tonight.

As a young man, he wanted to be a pilot, because, he said, he thought commercial aviation “might have a future.” But he failed his eye exam. And so he had to look for a different career.

His father was a patent lawyer in New York. When he was growing up, Giles often visited his father’s office and was intrigued by what he saw.

In the summer of 1926, he drove his father to Washington to interview some examiners. On the trip, he learned more about what his father did and why he liked it.

They stayed at the Willard Hotel, which was just across the street from the Patent Office in those days. It was there, he told a dinner audience celebrating his 90th birthday one evening in that very same hotel, that he decided to become a patent lawyer himself.

And so he got his law degree and embarked on what turned out to be a 27-year career in private practice. During that time, he came to greatly admire the work of Judge Learned Hand, and he sometimes visited his courtroom just to observe.

100 J. Pat. & Trademark Off. Soc’y 4(2018)

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