Legal Issues

by Timothy Lee

Filed Under:
cafc, patents, specialized courts, supreme court

Quanta Decision Illustrates Case Against Specialized Patent Court

from the no-more-federal-circuit dept

I agree with Mike that the Quanta v. LG decision was a big victory for common sense in patent law. I think it's worth taking a step back to note that this is a continuation of the trend that Mike identified last year. This is at least the fourth time in as many years that the Supreme Court has taken a patent law case, and in every case they've overruled a bad decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which has jurisdiction over patent appeals. The Federal Circuit has spent the last 15 years making a mess of patent law, and the Supreme Court has finally started to notice and is working to clean up the Federal Circuit's messes. But it's hard because patents are one of a handful of major issues on its docket, whereas the Supreme Court has lots of other subjects it needs to deal with. Even if the Supreme Court continues taking patent cases and smacking down the Federal Circuit every time, it will still take years to undo all the damage the Federal Circuit has done.

The lesson here is that the creation of the Federal Circuit in the early 1980s was a mistake. Before Congress created the court to handle patent cases, patent appeals were handled by the same courts that handled other kinds of appeals. There tends to be a lot more diversity on the normal circuit courts, which helps the judges on the courts to have a better sense of perspective and not see every case as an opportunity to expand patenting. Perhaps more importantly, the competition among circuits made the Supreme Court's job a lot easier. If one circuit wandered off the reservation, other circuits would typically hand down decisions more consistent with Supreme Court precedent, producing what the lawyers call a "circuit split." That would serve as a signal that the Supreme Court needed to step in, and it allowed the high court to simply give its blessing to the circuit whose rulings were closer to the Supreme Court's own thinking. In contrast, the current setup forces the Supreme Court to do a lot of the heavy lifting itself, repeatedly reviewing and overruling Federal Circuit decisions in an effort to establish a better set of precedents. Congress should give the Supreme Court a hand by eliminating the Federal Circuit and restoring jurisdiction over patent appeals to the other circuits. The judges currently on the Federal Circuit should probably be re-assigned to the other circuits, where they can provide helpful advice on the nuances of patent law to their colleagues but won't have enough votes to continue indiscriminately expanding patent law.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Kiba, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 1:35pm

    Is it me or the Supreme Court seem to be the most uncorrupted court of the land?

    Heck, it seem that the court is the most uncorrupted branch of the US government.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    angry dude, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 2:02pm


    Hey little punk,

    before you start praising SCOTUS decisions just go and read about Kelo v. City of New London case:

    You don't own a house, punk ?
    Of course not
    Otherwise you might be pulling your hair out as many many people did...
    And my guess is you'll never own a patent
    It's so simple to be a little techdirt lemming without any intellectual or real property

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    sonofdot, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 2:15pm

    Re: Re:

    Almost as simple as it is for you to be a troll without any real intellect. You keep flapping your yap, but nothing intelligent ever comes out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 4:38pm



    1) If you are new here, ignore Dorpus and angry dude. Those 2 are not the only ones that disagree with TechDirt on some matters, but they *ARE* the most stupid. Generally speaking, angry dude is probably a Troll and Dorpus is at least border line, when he shows up.

    2) SCOTUS does tend to be the least corrupt court. This is not ALWAYS true, and sometimes make rulings I personally disagree with. Point being though, they tend to make rulings that obey the spirit of the law (as is their job).

    I'd say about 85-90% of the cases they hear they usually make the proper ruling. If there is any doubt to that look it up yourself. The 60's alone should show that, in the end, SCOTUS ends up doing 'the right thing' most of the time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    angry dude, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 4:50pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Hey punky

    I told everybody before that I AM a troll - a PATENT TROLL
    AS far as techdirt is concerned I am just taking a 2-min shitting break here, from time to time
    YOu need to vent out somewhere these days, dude, or you go crazy

    Now shut up if you don't have anything to add to the subject at hand which is SCOTUS

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    dorpass, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 5:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    angry durak, you had nothing to add, yet you were still yapping away!
    And the case you brought as an example makes me yearn for the days dorpus posted. It has no relevance whatsoever.
    And to be a PATENT TROLL, you would have to actually have some patents. Many patents, in fact, for the most part ACQUIRED, as opposed to developed. Being an angry douche is not the same.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Little Techdirt Lemming Punk, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 6:45pm

    I do not like the eminent domain decision either. I'm lucky that they have not taken my property in exchange for less than market value and then give it to some company so they all could make money ...... but that is not the topic of discussion here.

    Their recent decision on patent exhaustion makes a lot of sense, but then I'm not a lawyer - oh wait neither is AD !

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    angry dude, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 7:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:


    I brought up relevant recent example of the current Supreme Court's "wisdom"
    and you didn't even get it
    If you just shut up and read then you might actually learn something

    poka pridurok

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Jason, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 9:09pm

    endangered species

    Hey you guys need to stop attacking the poor little angry patent troll here. They're nearly an extinct species soon to be the stuff of legend and myth.

    Someday my great-grandkids are going to say, "Big Daddy (cause that's what they'll call me), what's a patent?"

    And I'll put on my crotchety old man voice and say, "Sheesh, don't they teach you kids anything about history at that college of yours?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 10th, 2008 @ 11:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    *prays for banhammer*

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    stv, Jun 12th, 2008 @ 4:12am

    shill is a shill

    The Federal Circuit has not “made a mess” of patent law. Read Tom Lewis's "Empire of the Air", chapter 10, p313 and p356. Then you’ll understand how bad things were and how we got here. But you’re right if you are a large multinational who likes to steal with abandon and thumb your nose at small entities. They have made a mess of things. Whatever you may be an expert at (apparently an expert shill), it is not patent law. Do you by chance work for Cisco? Have a nice day.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    Mike (profile), Jun 13th, 2008 @ 3:06am

    Re: shill is a shill


    We've asked you this in the past, and I need to ask it again: please stop assuming that anyone who disagrees with you is a "shill." It's unbecoming, and makes it appear as if you have no real argument.

    Tim does not work for Cisco. Nor do I. I do not do any public policy work for any company. And, in fact (as has been pointed out to you), I actively disagree with Cisco's position on patents and patent reform.

    But why let facts get in the way of an insult when you have no argument, huh?

    If you can't come up with a real argument, I'd suggest you go post your lies somewhere else.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Texas_Guy, Jun 17th, 2008 @ 3:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Kudos for using favorite word in the russian to the phrase bliad sooka

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.