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United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit or "CAFC" is the national court where patent appeals are heard. Hierarchically, it is above the District Courts and below the Supreme Court.

Since its creation in 1982, the CAFC has massively expanded the scope for patenting business methods and software. The CAFC replaced the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals.[1]

Some important cases

Pro-patent tendencies

See also: Pro-patent bias in courts

Many judges on the CAFC worked previously in private patent practice. For evidence of strong pro-patent tendencies in this demographic, see: patent lawyers. The notable pattern is that their experience is systematically in litigation, and managing large patent portfolios, not in public interest defence or in protecting those who don't have patents against those who do.

  • Pauline Newman: From 1969 to 1984, Judge Newman served as director, Patent, Trademark and Licensing Department, FMC Corp. [...] She served as patent attorney
  • Alan D. Lourie : He was formerly Vice President, Corporate Patents and Trademarks, and Associate General Counsel of SmithKline Beecham Corporation. [...] he had been President of the Philadelphia Patent Law Association, a member of the Board of Directors of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (formerly American Patent Law Association), treasurer of the Association of Corporate Patent Counsel, and a member of the board of directors of the Intellectual Property Owners Association.
  • Richard Linn: ...served as a Patent Examiner at the United States Patent Office from 1965 to 1968
  • Kimberly A. Moore: has written and presented widely on patent litigation. She co-authored a legal casebook entitled Patent Litigation and Strategy
  • ...

En banc and panel decisions

The CAFC usually gives "panel decisions" which are written by a panel of three CAFC judges. The court can also take a case "en banc", which means all active judges of the CAFC participate in writing the opinion (or opinions). The purpose of en banc cases is to set firmer case law on a particular issue.


(May not be 100% up to date.)

The number of judges on the CAFC varies with time. The maximum seems to be eighteen.[reference needed]



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