Chapter 5: Taking stock and looking ahead: the future of U.S. patent law
During the 1970s, the federal courts’ conflicting interpretations of the Patent Act threatened to pull the patent system apart. While patentees rushed to get into the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Circuits, infringers did anything they could to go anywhere else. In 1982, Congress reacted by creating the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC), which has national appellate jurisdiction over all patent cases. Now over 25 years old, the Federal Circuit has come to the fore as a tremendous force. The court has shaped patent law and patent policy against a backdrop of the three major revolutions: the IT space dramatically changing people’s everyday life, the biotechnology and genetics explosion in the life sciences, and the effects of globalization. The Federal Circuit’s next 25 years holds many possibilities in the patent arena. For example, one patent possibility is that the Patent Act will gradually morph into different doctrines and laws for different technologies. The Patent Act would then resemble the Copyright Act’s patchwork of different protections for different media.
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