Personal Liberties

Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy Group

Adverse decision in case supporting defendants’ right to a jury trial

In 2011, the federal America Invents Act authorized the formation of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), a panel of three Administrative Law Judges who review the validity of patent claims. But defendants who are accused of patent infringement are increasingly asking the PTAB to use these reviews to invalidate the patent at issue, which in turn voids infringement claims. The problem is that patents are private property rights that cannot be extinguished by an executive branch tribunal without a jury trial. Oil States Energy Services asked the Supreme Court to decide whether this administrative tribunal is constitutional and PLF’s amicus brief argued that it is not. On April 24, 2018, the Court ruled 7–2 that this tribunal review process did not violate the Constitution because patents—unlike traditional property rights—fall within the “public rights doctrine” and challenges do not require a judicial determination.

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