Equitable Uniformity: Finding a Workable Solution to the (Non) Application of Issue Preclusion to Patent Claim Construction

BY Daniel R. Rose

In the midst of the Monica Lewinsky scandal surrounding President Clinton’s impeachment, the media made much of his statement calling into question the definition of one of the most basic words in the English language. In fact, the exact meaning of the word was critical in determining whether the President had perjured himself before a grand jury. While questions about the meaning of a single word in presidential speech are unusual in American political discourse, similar disputes are a regular occurrence for patent litigators. Now a staple of almost all patent litigation suits, “claim construction hearings” before a district court judge are a critically important component of infringement or invalidity actions. Under the current system, arguments made when a court first construes patent claim terms could have far-reaching effects, potentially precluding relitigation of the same terms in subsequent cases involving the same patent or even the same claim language. As such, there could potentially be much more at stake than just the outcome of the present litigation.

DOWNLOAD PDF | 89 N.C. L. Rev. 274 (2010)

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