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James J. Ralabate, patent attorney formerly with Xerox; March 17, 1928 -- May 9, 2012

James J. Ralabate of East Amherst, a patent attorney who formerly was director of patents for Xerox Corp., died Wednesday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst, after a short illness. He was 84.

Mr. Ralabate was the attorney of record for more than 1,000 U.S. patents since 1959.

Born in Buffalo, he earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Canisius College in 1950 and served in the Army as a chemical engineer in the chemical weapons division from 1952 to 1954.

He worked as an examiner in the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C., from 1955 to 1958 while he was earning his law degree from American University. He was admitted to the U.S. Patent Bar in 1958 and the New York Bar in 1959.

He served as patent attorney for Hooker Chemical Corp. from 1958 to 1962, then became general patent counsel and director of patents at Xerox Corp. At the time, he was the youngest director of patents at any major corporation in the U.S.

During his 17 years at Xerox, he had technical expertise in all aspects of Xerox's chemical and mechanical operations, and managed all domestic and foreign patents, as well as the company's licensing and litigation activities. He supervised a staff of 84 patent attorneys.

In 1980, Mr. Ralabate was a candidate for a federal judgeship with the U.S. Court of Customs and Appeals and a candidate for commissioner of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

He returned to the Buffalo area in 1982, establishing a private practice in patent law. Since 1995, he had been a director of Xybernaut Corp., a maker of wearable computers, which he advised on patent and trademark matters.

He was a past president and member of the board of governors of the Connecticut Patent Law Association, a founder and past president of the Connecticut Patent Counsels Association and a member of the American Bar Association, the American Intellectual Property Law Association and the Niagara Frontier Patent Law Association.

Surviving are his wife, the former Helen M. Agostinelli; a son, Dr. James P.; three daughters, Patti Sibrava, Sandra Krok and Kathy Doody; two brothers, Joseph M. and Frank T.; and a sister, Antoinette Buono.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9 a.m. Friday in St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church, 250 St. Gregory Court at Maple Road, Amherst.