I know I am very, very late in mentioning the passing of one of the truly remarkable legends in the patent field, but I did also want to join my colleagues in remembering and commemorating the life of Ray Niro. I only met him a few times, but his magnetic personality left an indelible impression upon me in ways unmatched by most in our field. Niro passed on Monday, August 8, 2016 while on vacation, bringing an untimely end to a long, successful career spent defending patents and the rights of inventors.
Being one of the most successful litigators of the 20th Century enabled Niro’s generosity to leave a lasting legacy. According to his official obituary, Niro: funded an amphitheater at George Washington University Law School, created a lecture hall at his alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh, and endowed a professorship at DePaul University College of Law.
Throughout the community, advocates of patent rights are remembering and honor Ray Niro. “Throughout his career he was a champion for the inventor facing long odds,” wrote Gene Quinn. Jaime Segal, speaking to Law.com, called him “one of the best negotiators I ever went up against.” His former partner, Paul Vickery, referred to Niro as “a pioneer in leveling the playing field for the individual inventors and small companies.” Phillip Mann, who came up short on $12 Million verdict won by Niro over Mann’s client, said, “Ray was easily the best trial lawyer I have personally seen,” and called him “A class act all the way around.”
In May, Niro referenced writing his own obituary, stating “If I had to write my obituary – and I hope that I don’t have to do that very soon – I’d say, ‘[T]his is a guy who … dedicated his life to try to promote innovation and to help level the playing field for inventors who had to take on some of the big corporations.'” As it turns out, it was entirely too soon. Farewell, Ray.