The Federal Circuit as a Federal Court

74 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2013 Last revised: 30 May 2013

See all articles by Paul R. Gugliuzza

Paul R. Gugliuzza

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law

Date Written: April 25, 2013


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has exclusive jurisdiction over patent appeals and, as a consequence, the last word on many legal issues important to innovation policy. This Article shows how the Federal Circuit augments its already significant power by impeding other government institutions from influencing the patent system. Specifically, the Federal Circuit has shaped patent-law doctrine, along with rules of jurisdiction, procedure, and administrative law, to preserve and expand the court’s power in four interinstitutional relationships: the court’s federalism relationship with state courts, its separation of powers relationship with the executive and legislative branches, its vertical relationship with trial courts, and its horizontal relationship with the regional circuits. The Article leverages this descriptive contribution to consider whether specialized or semispecialized courts will inevitably exclude other institutions from shaping the law within their domain. Although judicial behavior will likely vary depending on the court’s jurisdictional model, the Federal Circuit’s power enhancement arguably relates to the court’s dual missions to construct a uniform patent law and to provide expert adjudication in patent cases.

Suggested Citation

Gugliuzza, Paul R., The Federal Circuit as a Federal Court (April 25, 2013). William & Mary Law Review, Vol. 54, p. 1791, 2013, Available at SSRN:

Paul R. Gugliuzza (Contact Author)

Temple University - James E. Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

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