A Distinction Without a Difference: Convergence in Claim Construction Standards
The current patent regime applies different standards to interpret patents based on the forum interpreting the patent—the PTO applies the broadest reasonable interpretation standard to construe patent claims, while district courts apply the Phillips standard. The recent spike in inter partes review proceedings at the PTO raised the stakes of the dual claim construction regime, heating the debate about whether the PTO’s standard is more likely to invalidate patents. This Note conducts an empirical study of the legal authority cited in inter partes review proceedings to argue that in practice, the PTO and the district court standards have converged. Given this convergence, abolishing the dual system and recognizing a unified standard of claim construction would better serve the goals of the patent system—increasing efficiency, uniformity, and confidence in patent rights.
J.D. Candidate, expected 2017, Vanderbilt University Law School; B.A., 2012, Vanderbilt University.