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IP Law: Patents

This guide will provide the basic information you need to know to begin researching and understanding patent law. This guide includes a patent law primer, practical help, and sources for legal research.

Finding cases for patent law on Bloomberg

Bloomberg has a feature known as "Practice Centers." The Practice Centers group Bloomberg Law resources by area of legal practice and highlight resources from the entirety of Bloomberg Law's database. Bloomberg offers a practice center for Patents & Trade Secrets. Here, you can find patent dockets, patent opinions & decisions, and patent case-law trackers.  


Bloomberg also has a feature known as "Fast Answers," which answers common patent questions and provides resources for further research.


Finding cases for patent law on LexisNexis

Lexis+ has several useful features that make expedite legal research. Start by going to the "Practice Area" tab under "Explore." From there, find the tab titled "Patent law." This will lead you to a page that has links to various sources available on Lexis+. Here, you can find cases using the "Cases" section. Here, there are links to "All Patent Law Cases," "U.S. Supreme Court Cases," "U.S. Court of Appeals Cases," "U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Cases," "U.S. District Court Cases," "Markman Claim Construction Orders from U.S. District Court Cases." 


LexisNexis Headnotes show the key legal points of each case. They are written by a LexisNexis legal editor and serve as an excellent jumping off point for more legal research. LexisNexis has a function called "More Like This Headnote" which allows a researcher to find other cases in the same jurisdiction dealing with the same issue as noted in the headnote. 




Finding cases for patent law on Westlaw

The West Key Number System is a classification system that helps legal researchers find relevant case law quickly. The system works by placing a "Key Number" next to a legal topic. These key numbers are then subdivided to match subsequent topics that are subparts of the overarching legal doctrine. The Key number for patents is 291. A researcher can go to the West Key Note page, scroll down to 291, click on the link, and find all the other Key numbers related to patents. These subdivisions grow in specificity with each key number, helping researchers narrow down cases that are relevant to their research topic. Every case on Westlaw has a Key number. Therefore, once you know the Key number of your topic, you can find all the related cases on West.

Westlaw excels at connecting relevant pieces of information together through its use of the Key Numbering system, headnotes, citing, and referencing decisions. Finding cases through this system is easy and intuitive and allows a researcher to compile relevant and related cases quickly. 


Further, West editors create headnotes that have a Key Number designation. Researchers can use these headnotes and their corresponding Key Numbers to find more cases with the same designation. 


Notice the Key symbol and the numbers beneath it. Each Key Number is coinciding with a different subtopic of patent law. Therefore, say you were researching Claims and limitations of patent language, you could click Key Number 291k1314 and find other cases with the same headnote. 

Collection of Decisions in Print

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