Supreme Court Upholds Strong Presumption of Patent Validity

The pro-patent community scored a major victory when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a highly anticipated decision just recently, affirming that patent invalidity must be proved with “clear and convincing” evidence in patent litigation. Justice Sotomayor delivered the Opinion of the Court (unanimous 8–0 decision). Chief Justice Roberts did not participate in this case.

The patent statute states that an issued patent is “presumed valid” and the burden of establishing invalidity rests on the challenger. 35 U.S.C. § 282. But the patent statute does not explicitly specify the strength of this presumption—the standard by which the challenger must prove invalidity. The petitioner, Microsoft, argued that a lower “preponderance” standard is sufficient; the respondent, i4i, argued that a higher “clear and convincing” standard is required. The strength of the presumption is a key component of almost every patent litigation in the U.S. The U.S. Supreme Court gave its clear answer on Thursday—”We consider whether §282 requires an invalidity defense to be proved by clear and convincing evidence. We hold that it does.”

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