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CSE Seminar

Tilting at Windmills: The Connection Between Fighting Abusive Patent Asserters (aka Patent Trolls) and Civil Rights Advocacy

Lee ChengChief Legal Officer, SVP of Corporate Development, and Corporate Secretary

Most people would not naturally see a connection between civil rights advocacy and patent law. Both are highly specialized, and disparate areas of law full of experts who have spent years, if not decades, toiling in the trenches of academia, public policy and in the courts. I went to law school originally inspired by the desire to engage in pioneering civil rights advocacy, driven by my own experience with regressive practices and jurisprudence in the field. I exited law school as a corporate lawyer, determined to stay as far from courtrooms as I could. Then, ironically, I have become best known for my work in patent litigation, despite being neither a patent lawyer nor a litigator. I did so to help ensure room for continued innovation and entrepreneurism in a world where various interests, via patents or otherwise, are utilizing their considerable resources to attempt to create and exert negative, rent-seeking monopolistic controls over future opportunities.

My talk will focus on how I think anyone can help to bring about positive change as long as they have enough passion, and a willingness to not accept that things must stay the way they are simply because they have always or long been. I intend to share the experiences that led me to a career in the law, and then to try to effect the changes that I consider right and necessary. I want to encourage the members of the audience to each do what they can to make the differences they hope to make, and to provide a simple framework for helping them tilt at their own windmills.

Lee Cheng is the Chief Legal Officer, Corporate Secretary and SVP of Corporate Development for Newegg.com, a $2.8B global internet retailer. He oversees or has run Newegg's Legal, Corporate Development, Compliance, Ethics, Human Resources, Government Relations and Risk Management functions.

Mr. Cheng's work has been recognized in election to the Consumer Electronics Association's Board of Industry Leaders and selection by the National Law Journal as one of America's 50 Outstanding General Counsel (2014) and one of 50 IP Pioneers and Trailblazers (2014). In addition, Mr. Cheng was selected as a Top In-House Counsel by the Daily Journal (2013), was awarded the Vanguard Award from the State Bar of California's IP Section (2013), and was chosen as a NAPABA Best Lawyer Under 40 (2009). In 2011, Mr. Cheng received the NYU-Polytechnic Innovation Award.

Mr. Cheng has also held leadership positions or served on the Boards of professional, community and affinity organizations like the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) Southern California, Asian American Legal Foundation, the Organization of Chinese Americans (SF Chapter), the Harvard Club of San Francisco and the Lowell High School Alumni Association. He is a founding member of the Advisory Board of the Chapman University School of Law's Business Emphasis Program.

Mr. Cheng received a BS in History and Science, magna cum laude, from Harvard and a JD from UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law.

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