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  • Roman Goerss

Committee for Justice Urges Supreme Court to Consider Draconian Rule of Disqualification

The Committee for Justice, joined by Conservatives for Property Rights, filed an amicus brief in support of Supreme Court review of Centripetal Networks v. Cisco, a case in which the Federal Circuit wiped out the largest patent-damages award in U.S. history after a federal trial found that Cisco had engaged in “willful and egregious” infringement of Centripetal’s patents. The award was vacated on a technicality because the trial judge discovered, after completing his draft opinion, that his wife owned a few thousand dollars in Cisco stock.

The judge immediately reported the conflict via the appropriate channels, and the stock was quickly put in a blind trust, but the Federal Circuit found that was an insufficient remedy. CFJ’s brief focuses on the negative effect this Federal Circuit precedent would have on innovation if allowed to stand. As our brief explains, the precedent would “disproportionately harm smaller and emerging innovators [because the] widespread ownership of market-dominating companies like Cisco increases the risk that otherwise-valid findings of patent infringement … will be undone by unknown ownership of trivial amounts of stock.”

The brief was authored by Matthew J. Dowd and Robert J. Scheffel of Dowd Scheffel PLLC


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