Is the Government a ‘Person’? NYIPLA tells SCOTUS it depends
After reviewing the way the term “person” is used throughout the statute it is clear that in some provisions of the Patent Act, the term necessarily should be interpreted to include the government (e.g., 35 U.S.C. § 296(a), expressly including government in the definition of “person”), while in other provisions the term “person” should be interpreted to exclude the government (see, e.g., 35 U.S.C. §§ 3(a) and 6(a), which clearly exclude the governmental entities like the USPS, but would include individuals in the government’s employ). Accordingly, reliance on universal definitions from the Dictionary Act, 1 U.S.C. §§ 1 and 8, governing the U.S. Code in general, and likewise on other general definitions of “persons” from relevant case law (e.g., Cooper), may well cause inadvertent problems with respect to the Patent Act. Rather, as set forth below, the answer to the question posed by this case should depend on the legislative context relating to creation of various post-issuance patent challenge proceedings and the PTO’s longstanding interpretation of “person” to include the governmental entities for purposes of ex parte and inter partes reexaminations.