Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


Congress' creation of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in 1982 led to a boom in patent litigation that has continued into the 1990's. As this boom has continued, the role of juries in patent infringement cases has been criticized, with commentators suggesting jury bias in favor of patent holders. In particular, critics of patent infringement jury trials have argued that the doctrine of equivalents favors plaintiffs by allowing juries too much discretion in finding a patent infringement when there has been no literal infringement.

In 1995, the Federal Circuit's decision in Hilton Davis Chemical Co. v. Warner-Jenkinson Co. addressed the jury's role in patent cases under the doctrine of equivalents. This Article examines the Hilton Davis case, first by considering its treatment of the doctrine of equivalents in patent cases. Instead of limiting the application of the doctrine, which some had anticipated, the Federal Circuit allowed jury discretion to continue. The Article then analyzes the possible trial implications of the decision, concluding that the doctrine of equivalents after Hilton Davis still favors patent holders.