SCOTUS Seeks Govt Input on IPR Estoppel

As patent trolls continue to plague the tech industry, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) has decided to seek government input in its upcoming decisions on whether or not a party that cures a patented invention through an act of intellectual progress should be immune from damages.

In two recent decisions, the CAFC applied an “intellectual progress” exception to patents covering methods of making semiconductor devices and methods for producing nanomaterials. Intellectual progress is “any technological advance or innovation that makes it possible to do what was once impossible.”

The U.S. government has long recognized the importance of intellectual progress, and the CAFC needs to consult with it before binding rulings on this topic. If left unchecked, patents granting too much immunity could harm innovation by stifling companies’ efforts to improve upon patented inventions.

What is IPR estoppel?  

The issue of IPR estoppel has come up before the Supreme Court on a few occasions, with different companies alleging that they were spurned by another company and prevented from making a fair profit. In this case, a monopoly has been created, so the court will be looking at whether or not the government can step in to prevent further infringement of consumers’ rights.

IPR estoppel is when one company prevents another from profiting from an intellectual property they hold. This can occur in various ways, such as when a patent holder refuses to license their invention to another party or when a copyright holder threatens legal action if their work is copied. In some cases, the other party may be able to prove that they would have made a fair profit if allowed to do so. This is an important doctrine because it allows for market competition, which is essential for innovation.

The patent system is one of the foundations of the U.S. economy. It is integral to the country’s innovation system and helps to ensure that technology is available for public use. However, many civil society groups have argued that the patent system is not working as it should and restraining innovation.

Some courts have begun to question whether IPRs are effective in promoting innovation. If this trend continues, there could be a weakening of I.P. protections and a resulting increase in piracy. The U.S. Congress wants to know what the Supreme Court thinks about this issue and what recommendations it would make regarding IPRs.


Estoppel is legal jargon for concepts like “contractual promises are acted upon” and “the law presumes that people act in good faith.” In the context of intellectual property law, estoppel can often be used as a defense against lawsuits brought by individuals who allege that they were harmed because another party made false or misleading claims about their product. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the doctrine and highlight some pending cases before SCOTUS that will impact its future. Hopefully, this will give legislators and judges a better understanding of the issue so that they can make informed decisions when ruling on related cases.