Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts


Peter Lee


Commentators have long noted that the Federal Circuit tends to produce formalistic patent doctrine that favors bright-line rules over extensive engagement with facts and context. This Article, however, argues that Chief Judge Rader’s approach to patent law diverges sharply from this methodological tendency. In particular, it explores Chief Judge Rader’s rejection of formalism by examining his contributions to three areas of patent doctrine: claim construction, patentable subject matter, and the written description requirement. Throughout his engagement with patent law, Chief Judge Rader exhibits a striking sensitivity to context, policy considerations, and exogenous sources of authority that distinguishes himself from his more formalistic colleagues. The Article concludes with a brief normative assessment of Chief Judge Rader’s “antiformalist” methodology and its value to patent jurisprudence.

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