Festo v. Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki

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In Festo Corp. v. Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that patents are property rights. In a well-written opinion that explains the purpose and tradeoffs of the patent system, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for a unanimous court that:

The patent laws "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts" by rewarding innovation with a temporary monopoly. U.S. Const., Art. I, § 8, cl. 8. The monopoly is a property right; and like any property right, its boundaries should be clear. This clarity is essential to promote progress, because it enables efficient investment in innovation. A patent holder should know what he owns, and the public should know what he does not. For this reason, the patent laws require inventors to describe their work in "full, clear, concise, and exact terms," 35 U.S.C. § 112, as part of the delicate balance the law attempts to maintain between inventors, who rely on the promise of the law to bring the invention forth, and the public, which should be encouraged to pursue innovations, creations, and new ideas beyond the inventor's exclusive rights. Bonito Boats, Inc. v. Thunder Craft Boats, Inc., 489 U.S. 141, 150, 103 L. Ed. 2d 118, 109 S. Ct. 971 (1989).

Festo Corp. v. Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki Co., 535 U.S. 722, 730-31 (2002).

This recognition of a patent as a property right was cited favorably by the Fifth Circuit in US Inventor v. Vidal.