Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2015


Maybe the most important lesson that can be learned from cases like Myriad (ones in which the legal problems are complex) is a subtle one: the big picture is complicated. After all, if every case were easy to resolve on the merits, all lawyers and judges would be out of jobs quickly. Technology is complex, also. This results in a tendency (maybe even a compulsion) among patent attorneys and courts deciding patent cases to analogize to other areas of the law, to shoehorn fact into narrow doctrines, or otherwise to do things that reduce the case and the technology at issue into smaller and smaller, easy to digest components. This method of tackling complexity merits commendation — it has been described as an evolutionary cognitive process. However, over time, within legal doctrines, simplification that aids in categorizing and predicting outcomes for future cases may result in an unintended consequence that resonates in patent law — too much stability. Policymakers might fail to appreciate that complexity in a case could bring richness and nuance to our understanding of doctrines, especially those built upon complexity like patent law.