The Porous Court-Agency Border in Patent Law

24 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2018 Last revised: 11 Aug 2021

See all articles by Saurabh Vishnubhakat

Saurabh Vishnubhakat

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; Duke University School of Law

Date Written: February 28, 2018


The progression toward reevaluating patent validity in the administrative, rather than judicial, setting became overtly substitutionary in the America Invents Act. No longer content to encourage court litigants to rely on Patent Office expertise for faster, cheaper, and more accurate validity decisions, Congress in the AIA took steps to force a choice. The result is an emergent border between court and agency power in the U.S. patent system. By design, the border is not absolute. Concurrent activity in both settings over the same dispute remains possible. What is troubling is the systematic weakening of this border by Patent Office encroachments on powers Congress left to the courts. This Article traces the statutory roots of those encroachments, their initial encouragement by the Supreme Court’s 2016 Cuozzo decision, and the recent resistance to their further expansion by the en banc Federal Circuit’s 2018 Wi-Fi One decision.

Keywords: patent, agency, appeal, administrative, substitution, Cuozzo, Wi-Fi One, inter partes, covered business method, post grant, America Invents Act, IPR, CBM, PTAB, USPTO, AIA

JEL Classification: D23, D73, K41, O31, O34, O38

Suggested Citation

Vishnubhakat, Saurabh, The Porous Court-Agency Border in Patent Law (February 28, 2018). Akron Law Review, Vol. 51, 2018, Texas A&M University School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 18-47, Available at SSRN:

Saurabh Vishnubhakat (Contact Author)

Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law ( email )

55 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10003
United States


Duke University School of Law

Durham, NC

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