Congress Gets Patent-Training Bill for Judges

Late Thursday, Republican Congressman Darrell Issa finally introduced his long-rumored legislation that would create specialized patent courts around the country. H.R. 5418, co-authored by Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, proposes to establish “pilot programs” in at least five U.S. district courts where judges handle the highest volume of patent cases.

The bill is designed to widen the pool of experienced patent judges by proposing to fund “educational and professional” development programs for designated judges. The bill would provide $5 million annually over the next 10 years to train judges in the intricacies of patent prosecution and patent law. It will also pay salaries of new law clerks with expertise in patent law or with technical background.

Citing the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' 40 percent reversal rate of all patent cases decided by district courts, Issa said in a statement that the bill is designed to “help courts reduce errors that lead to appeals.”

Issa, who has patented several inventions himself, said he’s been involved in a number of patent cases during his time as CEO of a car alarm company and he was not impressed by the quality of adjudication at all.

“I was often struck by the fact that many district court judges either knew little of the applicable law, or were bored by the subject matter involved,” Issa said. “Patent litigation often costs litigants over $10 million and can inject crippling uncertainty into a business. This legislation will help courts and help businesses and individual inventors who patent ideas.”

George Mason University School of Law professor Kimberly Moore, who may soon be appointed to the CAFC bench, was the first to propose designating certain judges in each judicial district to handle patent cases. In her testimony before Congress last year, Moore recommended that the judge appointed must be technically educated or trained and/or have a patent background. She told lawmakers that the experience and expertise gained by the judges will “increase predictability, reduce litigation, improve patent case adjudication and enhance the integrity of the legal process.”

Xenia P. Kobylarz



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