Prof Vishnubhakat Shapes Patent Policy Debate with Empirical Research

April 21, 2016

Saurabh VishnubhakatProfessor Saurabh Vishnubhakat
Professor Saurabh Vishnubhakat, one of the new members of the nationally recognized intellectual property faculty at Texas A&M University School of Law, regularly uses empirical data in his research on the patent system. Data-driven research is now influencing how the media discuss patent issues, how lawyers argue patent cases, and even how courts decide them.

His latest paper, "Strategic Decision Making in Dual PTAB and District Court Proceedings," examines how companies take their patent disputes between administrative proceedings in the Patent Office and litigation in federal court. Vishnubhakat and his co-authors, Duke Law professor Arti Rai and Illinois Law professor Jay Kesan, all previously served as U.S. Patent Office advisors and combine a wealth of experience on the agency’s operations.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has now cited Vishnubhakat and his co-authors in deciding a Patent Office-related case. Judge Jimmie V. Reyna’s concurring opinion relied on the paper to explain important strategic effects of choosing the agency to challenge patent validity.

In recent weeks, the paper has also been cited extensively in U.S. Supreme Court briefs for the pending Cuozzo case. The paper underscored arguments by the case petitioner and by five amici curiae, including the Federal Circuit Bar Association and an industry consortium made up of 3M, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Qualcomm and others.

Just days after the paper went online, the legal news site Law360 interviewed Vishnubhakat for a special report, and the blogs PatentlyO and Written Description featured it as well.

Judges have cited Vishnubhakat’s work before. His very first paper, based on his law review note, surveyed how state defendants were escaping into federal court using a newly popular and controversial loophole. The paper was cited in two federal court decisions in 2013.

“Understanding things empirically is something we all do,” says Vishnubhakat. “We look around us and make inferences and judgments about how the world works. When the law is what’s at stake, it’s important to be more precise in our thinking, and to test our assumptions.”