Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1972

Abstract

The main purpose of the present inquiry is to determine whether second thoughts support or undermine the instinctive supposition that the doctrines surrounding cooperative use of patents should be federal. The original creator of a patented invention is seldom in a position to exploit its commercial potential alone; even if the invention is created by the employee of a vast enterprise, it is almost inevitable that the patent will be assigned to his employer. Patent licensing plays a vitally important role in the development of many inventions. The contract doctrines surrounding such transactions, and various other consensual undertakings relating to patents, can obviously affect the value of the patent in significant ways. Unduly restrictive state laws, or wide divergences between the laws of different states, could pose a very real danger of unduly diminishing the value of federally granted patents. And conversely, we are repeatedly reminded that there is a strong public interest in ensuring that private arrangements affecting patents not be allowed to make the patents too valuable by improperly increasing the rewards the patentee is able to extract from his statutory "monopoly." To some extent, indeed, misuse and antitrust doctrines have already federalized the law of patent transactions in response to this second danger. Similar dangers of undue extension or restriction of patent rights, moreover, may be found whenever state courts rule on the scope or validity of a patent.