Though KSR International Co. v. Teleflex, Inc. is now widely acknowl-edged in the bar and the academy to be the most significant patent case in at least a quarter century, that view dramatically underestimates the impor-tance of the decision. The KSR decision has immense significance not merely because it rejected the standard of patentability that had been applied in the lower courts for decades, but also because it highlights many separate trends that are reshaping the patent system. This Commentary will touch upon four such trends that are clearly evi-dent in KSR. First, the case was a predictable continuation of the Supreme Court’s reengagement in the field of patent law. Second, the decision repre-sents a continued revision to the substantive standards applied in patent law. Third, and perhaps most overlooked, KSR heralds a significant procedural reform to patent litigation. Fourth, the decision presents a classic example of the judiciary revising judge-made doctrines in response to external criticism. This final point raises the interesting theoretical issue of whether the tradi-tional common law process in the patent field has been fatally hobbled by the creation of a single intermediate appellate court with jurisdiction over most patent cases. KSR holds out the hope that the judiciary is still capable of overseeing the field in the traditional manner, but developments in the Congress and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) suggest that this tradition may be coming to an end.
John F. Duffy,
KSR v. Teleflex: Predictable Reform of Patent Substance and Procedure in the Judiciary,
Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions
Available at: http://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr_fi/vol106/iss1/24