The Yale Law Journal Online: What Are the Sources of Patent Inflation? An Analysis of Federal Circuit Patentability Rulings
The Yale Law Journal Online has published the second essay in a series of responses to Jonathan Masur’s article Patent Inflation, which appeared in the December 2011 issue of The Yale Law Journal. In his article, Masur posits that Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) administrators will be motivated to avoid costly appeals and direct reversals by the Federal Circuit and therefore will grant more patents than they otherwise should. These grants of “boundary-pushing” patents will touch off a process of “patent inflation” whereby patentability standards grow progressively more permissive. In What Are the Sources of Patent Inflation? An Analysis of Federal Circuit Patentability Rulings, Lisa Larrimore Ouellette counters with an empirical study examining the numerical and doctrinal significance of direct appeals from the PTO to the Federal Circuit. She argues that these cases are too rare—and too rarely cited—to be the main drivers of patent inflation, as Masur’s model posits. She suggests that patent infringement suits and the Supreme Court are playing a greater role than Masur’s theory acknowledges.
Preferred citation: Lisa Larrimore Ouellette, What Are the Sources of Patent Inflation? An Analysis of Federal Circuit Patentability Rulings, 121 YALE L.J. ONLINE 347 (2011), http://yalelawjournal.org/2011/12/27/ouellette.html.