Under our system of law, the federal district courts have exclusive jurisdiction over patent cases. Those courts have the responsibility to decide issues of patent claim construction, patent validity and patent infringement involving complex technologies, sometimes arcane patent prosecution procedures and often subtle issues of patent law. Unfortunately, many of those issues may extend beyond the first-hand experience and personal expertise of a typical federal district judge, because patent cases are unlike any others on a federal court docket.
Some think it is the lack of judicial experience and expertise with patent issues at the trial court level that has led to an unusually high reversal rate on appeals to the Federal Circuit. However, the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent focus on patent law cases and increasing criticism of Federal Circuit decisions may temper that view.