Which Supreme Court Cases Influenced Recent Supreme Court IP Decisions? A Citation Study

45 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2017 Last revised: 5 Feb 2020

Date Written: August 7, 2017


The U.S. Supreme Court has decided an increasing number of intellectual property cases — especially patent cases — over the last several terms. Which prior cases influence the stated reasoning in these recent Supreme Court IP cases? A handful of citation studies of supreme courts in the U.S., both state and federal, conducted over the last 40 years suggest that the Court would most often cite its own prior cases; that it would cite its more recent cases more often than its older cases; and that a small number of its prior cases would receive a large share of the citations, with most of its prior cases cited one or two times, if at all. In this unique empirical study of all the Supreme Court’s IP cases from October Term 1994 through October Term 2016, inclusive, all the predicted patterns hold true. In addition to reporting citation-pattern data, I use network analysis tools first developed to study social networks, and subsequently validated for use with citation networks in judicial opinions, to identify, rank, and visualize the interconnections among, the top case law authorities in the Supreme Court’s recent IP cases.

Keywords: Citation Networks, Bibliometrics, Network Analysis, Patent, Intellectual Property

JEL Classification: K29

Suggested Citation

Miller, Joseph Scott, Which Supreme Court Cases Influenced Recent Supreme Court IP Decisions? A Citation Study (August 7, 2017). UCLA Journal of Law & Technology, Fall 2017; University of Georgia School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2017-22. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3012262

Joseph Scott Miller (Contact Author)

University of Georgia School of Law ( email )

225 Herty Drive
Athens, GA 30602
United States
706-542-5191 (Phone)
706-542-5556 (Fax)

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