“Pilot” Patent Court Legislation Passes House

Late last week, the House of Representatives gave its assent to an experimental program designed to “encourage enhancement of expertise in patent cases among district judges.” H.R. 5418, now pending in the Senate, would authorize the director of the Administrative Office of the Courts to designate at least five district courts in three or more circuits to administer the program.

Although individual district judges would sign up to participate, patent cases would remain randomly assigned. If a judge particularly averse to patents receives a case, he or she can decline the assignment. The orphaned case is then randomly reassigned to one of the designated “patent” judges.

With the successes and excesses of patent litigation recently in the news, the question becomes: Is this program, ostentatiously labeled a “pilot program,” testing the waters for a separate patent trial court?

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