Following the dramatic increase in patent filings over the last few years, patent cases are flooding the dockets of federal courts around the country. Patent cases are often lengthy and complicated as they involve complex technical, procedural, and legal issues.
To help ensure that patent litigants receive the benefit of having an experienced judge hear their cases, Congress created the “Patent Pilot Program” early this year. The 10-year pilot project is designed to enhance expertise in patent cases among U.S. district judges, and it is now underway across the country.
Under the Patent Pilot Program, patent cases filed in participating district courts are initially randomly assigned to all district judges, regardless of whether they have been designated to hear such cases. A judge who is randomly assigned a patent case and is not among the designated judges may decline to accept the case. That case is then randomly assigned to one of the district judges designated to hear patent cases.
The fourteen courts that are participating in the program are:
- Central District of California
- Northern District of California
- Southern District of California
- 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
While the effectiveness of the program will not be immediately clear, it is certainly a positive step towards ensuring patent disputes are resolved fairly and expeditiously.