Rethinking Patent Law in the Administrative State
69 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2008 Last revised: 26 Apr 2017
Date Written: July 2, 2008
This Article argues that administrative law doctrines should not apply to judicial review of the patent system. The dynamics of patent law derive not from public law regulation, but rather from the private law doctrines of contract, property, and tort. A patent is akin to a unilateral contract offer by the government. An inventor who files a patent claim is claiming acceptance of the offer. If the offeror-government agrees, the patent must issue, with the property right of the patent given as consideration. An applicant that challenges the denial of a patent application is essentially bringing a breach of contract action, and a patent infringement suit is a type of tort claim. Based on this insight, the Article argues that administrative law doctrines such as Chevron and the Administrative Procedure Act should not apply within patent law, and that such doctrines pose a serious threat to the proper functioning of the patent system.
Keywords: patent law
JEL Classification: K1
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