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COMMERCIAL PURPOSE AS CONSTITUTIONAL PURPOSE: REEVALUATING ASAHI THROUGH THE LENS OF INTERNATIONAL PATENT LITIGATION

Matthew R. Huppert
Columbia Law Review
Vol. 111, No. 3 (APRIL 2011), pp. 624-669
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/29777205
Page Count: 46
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
COMMERCIAL PURPOSE AS CONSTITUTIONAL PURPOSE: REEVALUATING ASAHI THROUGH THE LENS OF INTERNATIONAL PATENT LITIGATION
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Abstract

The stream-of-commerce theory of personal jurisdiction posits that a nonresident defendant may be haled into a forum and have a judgment entered against her where her only connection with the forum has been indirect commercial contacts. The Supreme Court has recognized the validity of the theory's application in a series of cases, most recently in the 1987 case Asahi Metal Industry Co. v. Superior Court. The Court in Asahi, however, fractured into two pluralities, led by Justices O'Connor and Brennan respectively, that articulated differing standards regarding how much contact a defendant must have to establish personal jurisdiction under the stream-of-commerce theory. In the wake of the Asahi split, lower courts have divided over the proper constitutional baseline from which to judge when courts may exercise personal jurisdiction in the stream-of-commerce context. One lower court that has decided not to choose between the differing standards in Asahi is the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Federal Circuit also has a unique jurisdictional structure: Its appellate jurisdiction is defined by subject matter rather than geography, and it has exclusive appellate jurisdiction over patent claims. In light of the mounting and varying costs of patent litigation and the Federal Circuit's congressional mandate to standardize patent law, this Note argues that the Federal Circuit should choose between the two standards articulated in Asahi. After analyzing the historical, theoretical, and policy issues surrounding the stream-of-commerce theory and international patent litigation, this Note concludes that Justice Brennan's standard from Asahi fits best within the patent litigation context.

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