Role of a Special Master in IP Law

Monday, June 17, 2013

When in patent or intellectual property (IP) litigation, under certain circumstances you might want to request a Special Master to help move your case along. What is a Special Master?  It’s someone who has expertise in IP law and is engaged by a court to assist in keeping the case moving or resolving issues unique to IP law. Usually the Special Master is able to give quick decisions, especially on pretrial motions and procedures.

When a case is complex and time consuming, and a judge and clerks of the court are busy with other cases or are not experts in the product or industry at hand, a Special Master may help smooth the process for both sides. 
Not many attorneys have served as Special Master, and we’re proud to have one of them in our firm. Joe Berenato has been appointed Special Master in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and most recently for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. 
He describes the role this way: “When a federal court is clogged with both criminal and civil cases, and a complicated patent case comes along, the court may appoint a Special Master. All the parties usually agree to the appointment of the Special Master, and typically split the cost. The duties of that person are defined by the judge. When I’ve served in this role, part of my job has been to prepare a ‘Report and Recommendation,’ which may be considered as an advisory opinion to the court. Usually, when there’s a pretrial dispute between parties, rather than having them wait for a judge’s ruling, the Special Master can give a decision on many of the motions leading up to the trial.”
Having a Special Master means quicker decisions from a person who has expertise in patent law or in the particular technical area under scrutiny. Requesting a Special Master can be an effective strategy/solution in many IP cases, and can benefit both parties by saving time, lengthy litigation, and costs.

When in patent or intellectual property (IP) litigation, under certain circumstances you might want to request a Special Master to help move your case along. What is a Special Master?  It’s someone who has expertise in IP law and is engaged by a court to assist in keeping the case moving or resolving issues unique to IP law. Usually the Special Master is able to give quick decisions, especially on pretrial motions and procedures.

When a case is complex and time consuming, and a judge and clerks of the court are busy with other cases or are not experts in the product or industry at hand, a Special Master may help smooth the process for both sides. 

Not many attorneys have served as Special Master, and we’re proud to have one of them in our firm. Joe Berenato has been appointed Special Master in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and most recently for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. 

He describes the role this way: “When a federal court is clogged with both criminal and civil cases, and a complicated patent case comes along, the court may appoint a Special Master. All the parties usually agree to the appointment of the Special Master, and typically split the cost. The duties of that person are defined by the judge. When I’ve served in this role, part of my job has been to prepare a ‘Report and Recommendation,’ which may be considered as an advisory opinion to the court. Usually, when there’s a pretrial dispute between parties, rather than having them wait for a judge’s ruling, the Special Master can give a decision on many of the motions leading up to the trial.”

Having a Special Master means quicker decisions from a person who has expertise in patent law or in the particular technical area under scrutiny. Requesting a Special Master can be an effective strategy/solution in many IP cases, and can benefit both parties by saving time, lengthy litigation, and costs.