News of the WeekPATENT LAW

High Court to Review Standard for Appeal

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Science  27 Nov 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5394, pp. 1622
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5394.1622

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The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to rule on a case that could limit the ability of inventors to appeal if the government rejects their patent application. The case, Lehman v. Zurko, is an attempt by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to overturn a ruling by a special federal court that hears appeals from inventors who have had their applications denied. PTO officials believe that the judges have too much leeway to second-guess the government's rejections, which are often based on highly technical grounds, and would like the judges to show more respect for decisions reached by the PTO's patent examiners, many of whom hold advanced science and engineering degrees.