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The role of juries in patent cases

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1 Author(s)
M. M. Klee ; 1951 Burr Street, Fairfield, CT, USA

What should be the role of juries in patent cases? That was the question before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in two recent cases, Markman vs. Westview Instruments Inc. and Hilton Davis Chemical Co. vs. Warner-Jenkinson Co. As technology has become more complex, questions have been raised as to whether lay juries (or lay judges) are able to understand and make meaningful decisions in patent cases. The general wisdom has been that juries favor patent owners since they tend to have difficulty in seeing the technological importance of small differences, and that they also tend to be more reticent in overturning the original decision of the Patent and Trademark Office to grant a patent. The two cases described illustrate the fine line that sometimes must be drawn between what the judge does and what the jury does in a trial. Being a fine line, it should come as no surprise that neither of these cases was decided unanimously. The majority decisions, however, make it clear that juries will continue to play an important role in patent cases, albeit not as large as they did in the past

Published in:

IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Magazine  (Volume:14 ,  Issue: 6 )