WASHINGTON, DC: When someone wants to challenge property ownership, he files suit in either a state or federal court and the Seventh Amendment provides that the parties are entitled to a jury trial.
One would think that this general rule applies to all types of property, especially given that just two years ago in Horne v. Dep’t of Agriculture, the U.S. Supreme Court made clear that the Fifth Amendment “protects private property rights without any distinction between different types.”
However, Congress legislated away a patent owner’s right to trial by jury and vested exclusive authority to adjudicate (and extinguish) ownership of a patent to a non-Article III tribunal without the right of trial by jury. SLF joined Pacific Legal Foundation and National Association of Reversionary Property Owners in filing an amicus brief urging the court to grant the petition filed in Oil States Energy Services v. Greene’s Energy Group and determine whether Congress has the authority to take away a patent owner’s constitutional right of trial by jury.
In its brief, SLF argues that in doing so, Congress violates basic separation of powers principles. As Justice Kennedy explained in his concurrence in Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998), the Framers devised this nation’s constitutional structure in accordance with one “fundamental insight: concentration of power in the hands of a single branch is a threat to liberty.” By removing patent ownership challenges from Article III courts, Congress offends our constitutional structure.
Click here for SLF SCOTUS amicus brief