The Supreme Court is currently scheduled to take on only one patent case this upcoming term. On October 15th, the Court will hear oral arguments in Teva Pharm. USA, Inc. v. Sandoz, Inc., No. 13-854. This is an appeal dealing with important issues of patent claim construction. The central question before the Court is whether a district court’s factual findings on claim construction may be reviewed de novo by the Federal Circuit.

This rather light Supreme Court patent docket is in sharp contrast to the six patent cases the Court heard during the 2013-14 term, and even compared to the average of two to three patent cases heard each term since 2010.

Over the past several years the Supreme Court has reversed the Federal Circuit in a number of high profile patent cases.  Some of these reversals were made after the Federal Circuit had already decided the case for a second time upon “remand” from the Supreme Court.  Some legal experts have speculated why there have been so many Supreme Court reversals of patent cases.  One theory is that these reversals are the product of an overly-legalistic Federal Circuit sandwiched between activist District Courts and a patent-unfriendly Supreme Court. Can the pendulum now be swinging back to the Court taking on fewer patent cases? Only time will tell once the remainder of the Spring 2015 calendar is filled.

Stay tune for updates after arguments have been heard and the Court’s opinion has been issued.


By Anthony D. Sabatelli, PhD, JD

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