A rule that has applied in patent cases since 1998 may go the way of Chevy Cobalt ignition switches.
"Deference, I Don't Have to Show You any Stinkin' Deference" riffed on a line from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), in which Gold Hat, posing as a Mexican Federale, says "Badges, I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges."
The post reports on the latest in a long line of Federal Circuit rulings in which the court has taken the view that it can — must — review decisions about "claim construction" in patent cases de novo.
The Supreme Court today granted certiorari in Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., No. 13-854 (U.S. Mar. 31, 2014). The cert. petition poses this question:
Whether a district court’s factual finding in support of its construction of a patent claim term may be reviewed de novo, as the Federal Circuit requires (and as the panel explicitly did in this case), or only for clear error, as Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 52(a) requires.
You can see the SCOTUSblog page on Teva here.
What does it mean? Requiring the Federal Circuit to defer to district courts' rulings on claim construction issues that involve factual disputes would give more certainty to the results of trial court proceedings and lower the risks and costs of litigating patent cases.
We said a couple of weeks ago that "Blawgletter expects that the Supreme Court will take up the issue soon, maybe next Term. It should."