Jay Dratler Jr.


Many of the "general rules" that the Federal Circuit developed in its effort to simplify patent law turned out to be too crabbed and formalistic to do the job that Jefferson intended. As a result, the Supreme Court has had to step in. In virtually every case where it has done so, the High Court has rejected a narrow, formulaic rule proposed by the Federal Circuit and opted for something more general and flexible.

This paper analyzes some key cases of that sort. In the process, it attempts to answer the question "why"? Why did a specialized court fail to solve Jefferson's problem? Are the "general rules" that Jefferson sought an illusion, or can we find them, and, if so, how?