Rethinking Patent Law’s Uniformity Principle

Intellectual Property and Patents

Article Snapshot

Author(s)

John Duffy and Craig Allan Nard

Source

101 Northwestern University Law Review pp.1619-1675, 2007

Summary

This paper looks at how to change the court system to improve patent law.

Policy Relevance

More courts of appeals should be assigned to hear patent cases, so that the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals does not develop ideas in isolation.

Main Points

  • Uniform law is assumed to be good, because if the law is the same everywhere it reduces confusion and costs. But uniform law has problems, as well, especially if the law is the same everywhere, and is also of low quality.  Balance is needed.

  • Less centralized systems can be better at collecting information from diverse sources and allow innovation.

  • The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals is the only court that hears appeals of patent cases. The court’s decisions are often criticized for becoming biased and being isolated from critics.
    • The Patent office and the Supreme Court point out some problems with Federal Circuit reasoning, but more frequent input from equals is needed.

  • At least one existing court of appeals should be assigned to hear patent cases, so that Federal Circuit judges can benefit from hearing another perspective.
    • Ideas like claim interpretation and obviousness would be refined.
    • Problems like forum shopping could be solved and would not be overwhelming.

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