It's blonder-tongue all over again

Posted on 04 August 2014 by Alex Kozinski & Daniel Mandell

Among other reforms, the Act merged the Court of Claims and the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, creating a new judicial phoenix in the form of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, to which Congress gave exclusive jurisdiction over patent cases, regardless of where in the nation each case arose.

Chief Judge Diane Wood of the United States Court of Appeals gave a speech for the Seventh Circuit at the Supreme Court IP Review at the Chicago-Kent College of Law which proposed eliminating the Federal Circuit’s exclusive jurisdiction over patent cases. As a result of the Supreme Court’s holding in Blonder-Tongue Laboratories, Inc. v. University of Illinois Foundation, 402 U.S. 313 (1971), the Court removed the need for both parties to agree for collateral estoppel - which protects criminal defendants from being tried for the same issue in more than one criminal trial - in patent infringement cases. One implication of eliminating the Federal Circuit’s exclusive jurisdiction is that it may lead to continuous challenges to a given patent. Our article suggests that, should exclusive jurisdiction be removed from the Federal Circuit as Chief Judge Wood suggests, an alternative solution should be put in place to keep the impact of Blonder-Tongue from becoming a new problem.