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Abstract

Claim construction is central to patent litigation and has been the focus of a voluminous body of scholarship. Researchers have collected data from all aspects of claim construction cases, looking for answers to questions such as why the Federal Circuit reverses district courts’ claim constructions so frequently, why Federal Circuit judges reach different conclusions from one another, and what methodologies these judges are utilizing. This paper takes a novel approach to analyze these questions. Rather than focus on all claim construction cases, this paper focuses only on cases where the Federal Circuit was divided and a dissent was written, and cases in which the Federal Circuit reversed the district courts’ constructions. By looking at these two subsets of claim construction cases, we can glean insights from the data that are unapparent when looking at all cases. Specifically, we can observe trends in voting behavior, then compare those trends to different methodologies Federal Circuit judges utilize, whether expressly or impliedly. The data shows that, for reform to claim construction procedures to be meaningful, either the Federal Circuit or the Supreme Court must first address and definitively settle whether it is appropriate to determine “what the inventor actually invented” as a first step to claim construction. Once settled, ideas for reform can be debated. One such idea might involve applying an algorithm for construing claims, an example of which is provided in Appendix C.

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