April 24, 1996 in Nation/World

Patent-Infringement Suits Up To Judges

Compiled From Wire Services

In one of the most important patent decisions in years, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday that in a patent infringement suit it is up to judges, rather than juries, to resolve the crucial issue of what a patent means.

While the decision does not completely oust juries from patent cases, it may have that effect as a practical matter in many infringement suits.

The determination of the patent claim - the precise definition of the scope of the patent over which the patent owner exercises a lawful monopoly -is often the most important aspect of the case, and once a judge has decided this question, there is often nothing left for the jury to do.

The decision is likely to strengthen the position of people accused of infringing on a patent, because juries are known for favoring patent holders and for being impressed by expert trial testimony that portrays the scope of a patent in the broadest possible way.

Get stories like this in a free daily email

Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus