The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo has overruled the landmark Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. decision from 1984, which called for judicial deference to administrative agencies’ interpretations of ambiguous statutes. This change means courts will no longer automatically defer to agencies’ legal interpretations when statutory language is unclear, marking a significant shift in administrative law. Chief Justice Roberts wrote the majority opinion, while Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, and Jackson dissented. This ruling could result in increased litigation and places more responsibility on courts and Congress to clarify ambiguous laws, potentially affecting how federal agencies, including the USPTO, enforce regulations.

Sterne Kessler Director Will Milliken commented, “one concrete implication is that the PTO will not be able to rely on Chevron to justify [its] proposed rulemaking regarding terminal disclaimer practice.” He added “that rule has generated some controversy and may well be challenged if and when it is put into place. So, Loper does change the landscape of that potential dispute in a significant way.”