This week fourteen U.S. District Courts were selected to participate in a patent pilot program that is designed to enhance those courts’ expertise in complex patent litigation.
The patent pilot program is a 10-year project in which judges who request patent cases will receive specialized patent law and case management training. When a new patent case is filed in a participating district court, after an initial random assignment the case may be reassigned to one of the specially trained judges.
Courts that will participate in the program are:
- Eastern District of New York
- Southern District of New York
- Western District of Pennsylvania
- District of New Jersey
- District of Maryland
- Northern District of Illinois
- Southern District of Florida
- District of Nevada
- Eastern District of Texas
- Northern District of Texas
- Western District of Tennessee
- Central District of California
- Northern District of California
- Southern District of California
Some of the courts (such as those in Texas and California) were selected because they were among the 15 courts in which the largest number of patent suits were filed in 2010. The other courts, including my local court of the Western District of Pennsylvania, were selected because they have already adopted (or will soon adopt) local patent rules. A press release from the Western District of Pennsylvania notes that a goal of the program is to study whether focused patent experience among judges will decrease reversal rates and disposition times of patent cases:
the Chief Judge of each participating court . . will report to Congress on a periodic basis during the ten-year Program with respect to whether the Program has succeeded in developing expertise and improved efficiencies in patent cases, and whether a court’s inclusion in the Program has affected the number of patent cases filed in that court.
The patent pilot program will begin in July 2011.