Should Juries Hear Complex Patent Cases?

By: Jennifer F. Miller

A debate has arisen within the legal community over the existence and constitutionality of a so-called “complexity exception” to the Seventh Amendment. This exception would give a judge the discretion to deny a jury trial in a civil case if he or she feels that the issue is too complex for a jury to decide properly. This iBrief discusses the constitutionality of the complexity exception and the arguments for and against its implementation, with particular emphasis on the application of the exception to patent infringement cases. The iBrief then postulates that, while a blanket exception for patent infringement cases may not be the solution, at a minimum some restructuring of the adjudication process needs to occur in order to ensure that judicial holdings are more than a mere roll of the dice.

Cite: 2004 Duke L. & Tech. Rev. 0004

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