Sunday, January 19, 2014

Does the 7th Amendment require jury trials on patent invalidity?

Related to the Lemley draft Why Do Juries Decide if Patents Are Valid? discussed in PatentlyO


Nor are there any public mischiefs which will result from the view which the Court takes of this section. On the contrary, it will subserve the purposes of general justice. If a patent has been fraudulently obtained, or upon false suggestions, it may be repealed within three years, if a jury,
upon a trial, shall be satisfied of the fact. If such a repeal be not had, still the public have a perfect security. They may violate the patent with impunity, and if sued for the violation, any person may show the same facts in his defence, and they will constitute a complete bar to the suit, by the express provisions of the 6th section of the patent act. Here, also, the trial will be ordinarily by a jury, and if the verdict is found, upon such facts, in favour of the defendant, the law expressly declares, that "judgment shall be rendered for the defendant, with costs, and the patent shall be declared void." Many patents, under this section, have already, in such suits, been adjudged void; so that the danger of extensive imposition or injury is wholly chimerical. On the other hand, if, by any accident or mistake, the patentee should neglect to appear to oppose the rule, upon the argument on the other side, he may be remediless. But, upon the exposition of the statute adopted by the Court, he will still be entitled to appear to the scire facias, and have a more deliberate opportunity to defend his rights.


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