By Jason Rantanen
First, thank you for all the terrific comments I received in response to the Top 10 Patent Cases post. There were some great ideas there and after substantial reflection I decided that my final list this year will be:
Bowman v. Monsanto, 133 S.Ct. 1761 (2012)
O’Reilly v. Morse, 56 U.S. 62 (1853)
Diamond v. Chakrabarty, 447 U.S. 303 (1980)
Egbert v. Lippmann, 104 U.S. 333 (1881); City of Elizabeth v. American Nicholson Pavement Co., 97 U.S. 126 (1878)
Graham v. John Deere, 383 U.S. 1 (1966); KSR v. Teleflex, 550 U.S. 398 (2007)
The Incandescent Lamp Patent case, 159 U.S. 465 (1895)
Phillips v. AWH, 415 F.3d 1303 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (en banc)
Graver Tank v. Linde Air Products, 339 U.S. 605 (1950)
Gorham v. White, 81 U.S 511 (1871)
Bonito Boats v. Thunder Craft Boats, 489 U.S. 141 (1989)
While it's hard to do justice to patent law with just 10 or 12 cases, because this is an Introduction to Intellectual Property class the amount of classroom discussion that can be devoted to individual cases is limited. Additional cases are discussed in the mini-treatise the students read and I'll cover them in the lecture component as well. Fortunately, I also teach Patent Law which allows a much more substantive exploration of specific issues in patent law. Also, the above list is a combination of importance and teaching value: some cases are on there more because they're both reasonably significant and useful teaching tools.
Second, for those of you who are interested in textualism and claim construction, Landslide recently published my review of Justice Antonin Scalia and Professor Bryan A. Garner's Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts from a patent law perspective. A copy of the review is available on Landslide's website and I've archived a copy on ssrn.
I'll also note that Professor Tun-Jeng Chiang wrote to me yesterday to share that his recently published article The Interpretation-Construction Distinction in Patent Law, 123 Yale Law Journal 530 (with Lawrence B. Solum) relates to many of the issues that I discuss in the review, taking on in particular the "argument that the high reversal rate belies the certainty of textualism or suggests that claim interpretation typically involves hard cases from a linguistic standpoint." While I ultimately don't agree with many of Professor Chiang's arguments, his work is always insightful and worth reading. His article is available here.