Antiformalism at the Federal Circuit: The Jurisprudence of Chief Judge Rader
University of California, Davis - School of Law
March 29, 2012
Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts, Vol. 7, pp. 405, 2012
UC Davis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 288
While the Federal Circuit has long been characterized as producing formalistic patent doctrine, this essay argues that its Chief Judge does not share this methodological tendency. The essay starts by exploring the formalistic nature of Federal Circuit jurisprudence. In a variety of ways, Federal Circuit patent doctrine favors bright-line rules as well as syllogistic reasoning and eschews extensive consideration of context. The essay then examines Chief Judge Rader’s rejection of formalism by considering his contributions to three areas of patent doctrine: claim construction, patentable subject matter, and the written description requirement. Throughout his engagement with patent law, Chief Judge Rader exhibits a striking sensitivity to context, policy considerations, and exogenous sources of authority that distinguishes himself from his more formalistic peers. The essay concludes with a brief normative assessment of Chief Judge Rader’s 'antiformalist”' methodology and its value to patent jurisprudence.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 36
Keywords: Patents, intellectual property, Federal Circuit, formalism, Chief Judge Rader, courts, claim construction, patentable subject matter, written description requirementAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: March 30, 2012 ; Last revised: January 2, 2015
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