How Can the Supreme Court Not 'Understand' Patent Law?

17 Pages Posted: 17 Feb 2017  

Greg Reilly

IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law

Date Written: February 16, 2017

Abstract

The Supreme Court does understand patent law. This invited Essay responds to Federal Circuit Judge Dyk’s remarks at the Chicago-Kent Supreme Court IP Review, in particular, his observation that the patent “bar and the academy have expressed skepticism that the Supreme Court understands patent law well enough to make the governing rules” (a view Judge Dyk did not endorse). The idea that the Supreme Court does not understand the law of patents is implausible. Even more generous interpretations of this criticism – that the Supreme Court insufficiently understands innovation policy, insufficiently understands the patent system that Congress desired in creating the Federal Circuit, or insufficiently understands the technical facts to resolve patent issues – do not hold up under closer scrutiny. Rather, those leveling this charge against the Supreme Court are mistaking policy disagreement for a lack of understanding. This mistake, even if one primarily of rhetoric, has potentially negative consequences for understanding the role of patent law, promoting productive debates about patent law and policy, and preserving the Supreme Court’s legitimacy in patent law and patent law’s (perhaps limited) contribution to the constraints imposed by legal authority in our society.

Keywords: patent, Supreme Court, intellectual property, Federal Circuit

Suggested Citation

Reilly, Greg, How Can the Supreme Court Not 'Understand' Patent Law? (February 16, 2017). Chicago-Kent Journal of Intellectual Property, Vol. 16, No. 2, 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2919166

Greg Reilly (Contact Author)

IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law ( email )

565 W. Adams St.
Chicago, IL 60661-3691
United States

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