Secret Circuit

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Imagine a high impact, low profile, nonpartisan government institution located across the street from the White House. Imagine that it plays a central role in shaping our technology industries, in overseeing globalization, and in holding the federal government responsible for its commercial activities. Imagine that only Congress and the Supreme Court can correct its mistakes. Such an institution exists. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit was born in the early 1980s as part of the drive to liberalize and reinvigorate the American economy. Over the past twenty-five years, it has earned its nickname as the 'patent court' by revolutionizing American patent law, but it also oversees international trade law and government business law. Taken together, its docket covers the rules guiding innovation, globalization, and much of government. Are these rules impelling the economy forward or holding it back? Are the policies we have the policies we want? How are we faring, as the economy transitions from the industrial age to the information age? What responsibility does the Federal Circuit bear in shaping America's current economic policies in these three critical areas? The Secret Circuit demystifies this Court's work and answers these questions.

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Editorial Reviews

Richard A. Posner
The Federal Circuit—the nation's patent court of appeals—is at center stage of current controversies over U.S. patent law. Bruce Abramson's new book is an authoritative study of the court, remarkable for the lucidity with which it describes highly technical legal and scientific issues, and critical but fair-minded.
R. Polk Wagner
Abramson has produced a provocative look at a Court who's power is far greater than most realize. In doing so, he has brought to life the Federal Circuit's rich history, its jurisprudential successes and failures, and the very real challenges facing what is perhaps the most important legal body in the modern U.S. economy.
Joshua Spivak
..."The Secret Circuit" serves as an excellent primer on the last time the law was revised while also providing some good analysis on the effectiveness of America's patent system in achieving economic growth.
Robert Litan
In this remarkable book, Bruce Abramson provides a lively tutorial to our entire legal system, through the lens of a little-known, but highly important court in the United States that determines the validity of patents and regulates international trade. It is a tour de force which should be widely read.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742552814
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/15/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 422
  • Sales rank: 1,125,600
  • Product dimensions: 0.94 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce D. Abramson received his Ph.D. from Columbia and his J.D. from Georgetown. He is the President of Informationism, Inc., a San Francisco-based consultancy that helps an international clientele understand the law, the policies, the economics, and the strategic uses of intellectual property. He has served as a member of the Computer Science faculty at the University of Southern California and as a law clerk at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He is the author of Digital Phoenix: Why the Information Economy Collapsed and How It Will Rise Again (MIT Press, 2005). His blog, The Informationist, (, contains his musings on IP, tech policy, and numerous other issues.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Preface Chapter 2 Judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Chapter 3 Prologue Part 4 Part I: The Secret Circuit Chapter 5 Chapter 1: A Court is Born Chapter 6 Chapter 2: Conservative Liberalism Part 7 Part II: The Patent Court Chapter 8 Chapter 3: From Pilgrims to Progress Chapter 9 Chapter 4: The Main Tent Chapter 10 Chapter 5: From Cutting Edge to Front Page Chapter 11 Chapter 6: Innovation Regulation Part 12 Part III: Not Just the Patent Court Chapter 13 Chapter 7: Are We Poor Enough Yet? Chapter 14 Chapter 8: Looking Forward Chapter 15 Chapter 9: It's Good to be the Government Chapter 16 Chapter 10: The Divine Dignity of the Infringer Part 17 Part IV: The Circuit's Secrets Chapter 18 Chapter 11: Peripheral Vision Chapter 19 Chapter 12: Dawn of the Digital Millennium Chapter 20 Chapter 13: Sherman's March Chapter 21 Chapter 14: Misuse Abuse Chapter 22 Chapter 15: The Permanent Experiment

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