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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

SCOTUS Once Again Hammers the Federal Circuit (the Patent Court)

This week brought another lesson in the importance of looking at big picture principles instead of focusing only at the micro level. The lesson arose because SCOTUS once again knocked down a “patent friendly” ruling from the Federal Circuit when the patent law principle at issue had big picture implications for the economy and for certainty. The ruling arose in the context of efforts by OEM/patent holders to use patent rights as the basis for suing third-parties who do things to a product (e.g. repair shops; ink cartridge re-fillers). Perhaps the Federal Circuit does well in resolving arcane patent, but it keeps getting hammered by SCOTUS when it seeks to broadly apply patent law claims to events that are of notable concern to others in the economy.  The current ruling is based on big picture principles rather than narrow “patent think;” the story is told in a June 1, 2017 article at Wired. The same thing happened when the Federal Circuit approved efforts to patent genes; prior posts on this blog (e.g. here and here) describe SCOTUS reversing based on big picture principles.

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