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Document Type

Article

Abstract

Do specialized trial court judges make more accurate decisions in patent law cases? In 2011, Congress passed a law setting up a ten-year pilot program to enhance expertise in patent litigation by funneling more trial court decisions to fourteen select district courts. Now that the five-year mark has passed, has the program had its intended effect of increasing accuracy, as measured by less reversal of pilot judges by the Federal Circuit? This Article analyzes trial court patent cases filed from September 2011 through September 2016, focusing specifically on whether the appellate treatment of cases heard by district court judges participating in the pilot program differs from the treatment of cases heard by non-pilot judges. Of the several hundred cases where the Federal Circuit rules on the substantive patent law issues on appeal, the results indicate that, even controlling for other factors, the Federal Circuit does not overrule non-pilot judges more than pilot judges. After discussing the empirical results, the Article proposes suggestions for reform.

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