Sue Ann Ganske


The United States Supreme Court decided six very important patent cases in the 2016-17 term, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. v. Apple Inc., called the “design patent case of the century,” Life Technologies Corp. v. Promega Corp., an international supply chain patent case, SCA Hygiene Products v. First Quality Baby Products, LLC, where the doctrine of laches was not a defense in a patent infringement case, TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC, which dealt with patent venue statute, Impression Products, Inc. v. Lexmark International, Inc., which held that the authorized first sale of a patented item exhausts the patent holder’s rights, and Sandoz Inc. v. Amgen Inc., which interpreted the Biologics Price Competition and Innovations Act. In each case, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit was reversed, vacated, or both. Four of the cases were unanimous, and two had only one dissenter each, Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg, which sends a strong message from the Court in the area of patent law, as well as a strong message to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. This article reviews the six Supreme Court patent decisions and concludes with implications of this series of important cases.