One of the most important patent decisions recently decided is the Voda v. Cordis opinion handed down by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC). The question being presented was one of first impression that had the potentially large ramifications for U.S. patentors being able to protect their patents abroad. Voda sued Cordis for infringement of its patents stateside, but also wished to add claims of infringement abroad in Canada and Europe. The District Court found that it could adjudicate the foreign claims utilizing their discretion granted under U.S.C. Section 1367 to grant supplemental jurisdiction. In its decision, the CAFC found that the District Court abused that discretion in hearing the foreign claims. In making its ruling, the CAFC emphasized the fact that the District Courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and that ruling on foreign patent claims would tread not-so-lightly upon the toes of other sovereign nations. Despite the ruling, there were some interesting points made by Justice Newman in a dissenting opinion. Justice Newman emphasized the fact that U.S. judges have interpreted foreign law in many fields other than patent law, and that in light of the history of such decisions, there is no reason to find that the District Court abused their discretion in doing so. Additionally, the decision seems in opposition to the T.R.I.P.S. agreement which was formed in order to create more uniformity in the patent world. It seems absurd for the CAFC to state that a U.S. court is not equipped to adjudicate a patent dispute between two U.S. litigants while interpreting foreign law when T.R.I.P.S. has made the laws of its signatories more similar. You can read the opinion and dissent here. (.pdf file)

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