Will the Supreme Court Weigh in on Claim Construction Appeals?
While the Lighting Ballast majority upheld the Cybor standard, even Judge Newman, who penned the opinion, seemed to recognize that the decision was on shaky legal footing, relying heavily on stare decisis and the fact that Cybor has been the law for over a decade in sustaining the rule. The majority stated, “the court is not now deciding whether to adopt a de novo standard in 1998. Today we decide whether to cast aside the standard that has been in place for fifteen years.” Opponents of the de novo standard of review in claim construction cases, as set forth in Cybor, might still have another day in court. The Federal Circuit’s ruling could be taken up by the United States Supreme Court next term, especially if the Solicitor General recommends granting the petition for certiorari that is sure to arrive at the Court in the next few months. In a prior case, Retractable Technologies v. Becton, Dickinson, and Co., the Solicitor General recommended to the Supreme Court that “in an appropriate case, this Court’s intervention might be warranted to determine the proper standard of appellate review of district court factual determinations that bear on the interpretation of disputed patent claims.” Here’s a look at the three basic arguments made to the Federal Circuit, and that would likely be made again before the Supreme Court, should it decide to hear the case.