The Honorable S. Jay Plager of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Federal Circuit presented October 20 at the A. Sidney Katz Intellectual Property Law Speaker Lecture at George Washington University Law School. The lecture, held twice a year, was created in 2008 through an endowment from Katz, Managing Partner of the firm's Chicago office and Chair of the firm's Intellectual Property Group.
Judge Plager, under the topic of "The Rule of Uncertainty - Judicial Levers and Patent Policy," discussed the problem in patent law of defining exactly what a patent will cover when it is asserted against an alleged infringer. He also discussed the factors that contribute to that uncertainty from the point of view of various parties, including the inventor, the patent attorney drafting and prosecuting the patent, the Patent and Trademark Office examining the patent application, the litigation attorneys, the trial court judge, and finally the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals judges, and then perhaps, the Supreme Court. He then opened discussion on possible ways to reduce the amount of uncertainty. As part of this discussion, he addressed the historical development of how we arrived at our present judicial and administrative processes in dealing with patents.
Approximately 100 people turned out for the presentation and the informal reception that followed, including judges, attorneys, educators, business people and students.