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Abstract

Congress formed the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 1982 in part to improve uniformity in the interpretation of patent law and to eliminate forum shopping. However, in 2002, the Federal Circuit’s ability to achieve that goal was reduced when the U.S. Supreme Court, in Holmes Group v. Vornado, held that the Federal Circuit would not have jurisdiction in cases where a federal patent law issue arises only in a responsive pleading. Many commentators have argued that the Holmes decision runs afoul of the congressional mandate in forming the Federal Circuit. With the hope of addressing this issue, the House Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property conducted hearings to determine whether Congress should override the Supreme Court’s Holmes decision and hence grant to the Federal Circuit plenary authority to hear such patent appeals. This paper analyzes some of the recent criticism of the court, argues that the Federal Circuit is achieving its goals, and therefore supports granting plenary patent appeal authority to the Federal Circuit.

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