Expert Court, Expert Agency
University of Houston Law Center
April 17, 2011
44 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 1547 (2011)
Under Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, federal courts are required to defer to an agency’s reasonable interpretation of its ambiguous organic statute if Congress intended to delegate lawmaking authority to the agency. But the semi-specialized U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”) has not applied deference to patent decisions from the United States International Trade Commission (“ITC”). Given that both the Federal Circuit and the ITC are experts in patent law, this raises the question of whether the Federal Circuit should be required to defer to the agency on patent issues.
This Article argues that ITC patent validity and enforceability decisions are decided under the Tariff Act and that such decisions are entitled to Chevron deference. It demonstrates that this outcome is desirable from an institutional design perspective because the ITC possesses unique expertise, superior factfinding capability, and is politically accountable, in contrast to the Federal Circuit. This Article also argues that interest group theory does not support disregarding Chevron.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 63
Keywords: ITC, Agency, Patent, Validity, Trade, Tariff, Chevron, 337, administrativeAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 3, 2010 ; Last revised: July 15, 2011
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