On November 3, 2021, President Joe Biden nominated Judge Leonard Stark to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Judge Stark has served for the last 14 years as a District Court Judge and Magistrate Judge on U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. In addition to his extensive judicial service, Judge Stark brings considerable legal experience in both criminal and civil matters, and his expertise in patent litigation, to the Federal Circuit.
Judge Stark has spent almost his entire life serving the state of Delaware. He earned dual degrees in political science and economics, as well as his M.A. in history from the University of Delaware. Stark went on to be a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford, earning a doctoral degree in politics. He then attended Yale Law School, graduating with his J.D. in 1996. Stark then returned home to Delaware to serve as a law clerk to Judge Walter Stapleton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
Judge Stark had a meteoric rise through the Delaware legal community. After completing his clerkship, Stark joined the Wilmington office of the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP as an associate. At Skadden, he primarily represented Fortune 500 corporations and officers in securities litigation in Delaware state court. Exemplary of this work, Stark and the firm represented a trading house partnership in a suit against several of its partners for breaching the entity’s partnership agreement by competing with the partnership’s bond trading business.
In January 2002, Stark became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Delaware. In this role, Stark prosecuted white collar criminal cases and narcotics and firearms offenses, as well as assisting with the Office’s civil caseload. Stark argued five appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, including a long running public corruption case involving high-ranking officials in New Castle County. Stark was also awarded the FBI’s Award for Dedicated Service for his work in the U.S. Attorney’s office.
In 2007, Stark was appointed as a Magistrate Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. Just three years later, President Obama nominated Judge Stark to be a District Court Judge on the same Court. The U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Stark by unanimous consent. Judge Stark then served as Chief Judge of the District from 2014 to 2021. As a Judge for over 14 years, Leonard Stark has presided over 6,000 civil and criminal cases and issued more than 2,000 written opinions. Because of Delaware’s unique position as the state of incorporation for America’s largest companies, Judge Stark has had extensive experience adjudicating corporate legal issues. Specifically, Judge Stark has adjudicated numerous patent disputes, a topic that comprises the largest portion of the Federal Circuit’s docket. Notable cases included handling a bankruptcy appeal related to the media rights of the Los Angeles Dodgers following the team’s sale, as well as a complex patent infringement suit between Kraft Foods and TC Heartland, makers of Splenda and Stevia products, over the use of water flavorings. The U.S. Supreme Court subsequently heard arguments in the latter case regarding the proper venue to bring a patent suit.
Judge Stark has also had the opportunity to sit by designation with the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Federal and Third Circuits, hearing over 50 appeals. Judge Stark wrote for the Courts of Appeals in cases involving price fixing in the egg industry, damages sought against Securities and Exchange Commission for failing to uncover a Ponzi scheme, and defenses to a patent suit.
Judge Stark has received numerous honors throughout his distinguished career. While at the University of Delaware, Stark was named to the USA Today All-USA Academic First Team and the Alexander J. Taylor Award as the University’s most outstanding male graduate before being award a Rhodes Scholarship. At Yale Law School, Stark was the senior editor of the Yale Law Journal. Additionally, Judge Stark recently received the Outstanding Intellectual Property Achievement Award from the Philadelphia Intellectual Property Law Association. Judge Stark remains heavily involved with his alma maters, having served as the President of the Delaware Alumni Association Board of Directors and the Rhodes Scholarship Selection Commission. Judge Stark is also active in the legal community, serving as a representative on the Judicial Conference of the United States and advising the American College of Trial Lawyers on complex patent litigation.