On the Development of Patent Law

53 Pages Posted: 8 Oct 2010 Last revised: 11 Dec 2014

Date Written: October 5, 2010


There is little dispute over what Congress believed it was doing to patent law when it established the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Centralizing appellate jurisdiction for patent law was meant to address the widespread perception that the legal infrastructure of patent law was not well managed by the conventional arrangement of regional circuits supervised by the U.S. Supreme Court. The new court, it was thought, would better manage and develop patent law, thereby producing improvements in the uniformity and coherency of the law. This Article examines central features of patent law that the Federal Circuit is conventionally credited with developing – specifically, doctrines of patentability and patent scope – against the background of the court’s institutional position in the patent system. From that perspective, the Article explains how the Federal Circuit, while perhaps not perfectly, has moved to rationalize patent law with patent policy and theory.

Keywords: Federal Circuit, Law and Courts, Federal Courts, National Circuit Court, Doctrinal Development, Judicial Decisionmaking, Patent Law, Obvious, Obviousness, Claim Construction, Equivalents, Subject Matter Courts, Specialized Courts, Phillips v. AWH Corp

Suggested Citation

Petherbridge, Lee, On the Development of Patent Law (October 5, 2010). Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, Vol. 43, p. 893, 2010, Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2010-49, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1688132

Lee Petherbridge (Contact Author)

Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )

919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211
United States
213-736-8194 (Phone)
213-380-3769 (Fax)

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