District Courts as Patent Laboratories
UC Irvine Law Review, Vol. 1, p. 307, 2011
16 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2011
Date Written: December 7, 2011
This symposium article engages with Dan Burk and Mark Lemley's recent book, "The Patent Crisis and How the Courts Can Solve It," in which they suggest that courts should and do tailor patent law to particular technologies or industries, with the aim of providing appropriate incentives to innovate under the specific circumstances. Their book understandably focuses on the Federal Circuit’s key role in this tailoring. I seek to enhance their contributions by arguing that federal district courts — which receive less attention in their book — are also particularly crucial for the development and application of technology- and industry-specific patent rules. I suggest possible improvements to the district courts’ practices and relationships that might be fostered between the district courts and the Federal Circuit. These courts — two of the most important components in the development of patent law — could interact in advantageously symbiotic ways to tailor patent law to the particular needs of a technology or industry. In doing so, I discuss how the limitations and advantages of district courts and the Federal Circuit might each, respectively, be minimized and enhanced by treating the district courts as the Federal Circuit’s patent laboratories.
Keywords: patent, patent litigation, district courts, Federal Circuit, Dan Burk, Mark Lemley, patentography
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