The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to overrule the Chevron doctrine, which required courts to defer to government agencies’ legal interpretations of ambiguous laws, could significantly impact patent law, particularly in cases involving the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). While Chevron deference was not frequently applied in patent law, its removal may embolden challenges to ITC and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) rulings. This could lead to shifts in how courts interpret laws governing patent disputes, especially concerning ITC’s jurisdiction and the interpretation of Section 337 of the Tariff Act.

With regard to the USPTO, Sterne Kessler Director Will Milliken commented that a proposed USPTO policy that would make some patents unenforceable if a claim of a related patent is found invalid “has generated some controversy and may well be challenged if and when it is put into place.” He noted that the Supreme Court’s ruling “does change the landscape of that potential dispute in a significant way.”