Skip to main content



Formed by an Act of Congress in 1982, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit occupies a unique place among the 13 appeals courts in the federal system. Alone among its sister circuits, the Federal Circuit's jurisdiction is defined strictly by the subject matter of the cases brought before it (patent cases from the federal district courts, patent and trademark cases from the PTO, international trade cases from the International Trade Commission and Court of International Trade, claims against the United States from the Court of Federal Claims, veterans' appeals from the Court of Veterans' Appeals, government-employment cases from the Merit Systems Protection Board). Also unlike its sister circuits, the Federal Circuit has no criminal docket, and has no supervisory jurisdiction over district courts, as the regional circuits do over the district courts within their respective jurisdictions. These unique characteristics especially when coupled with the crucial place of intellectual property in the U.S. and global economies make a systematic understanding of the Federal Circuit, its history, procedures, and doctrines, crucial for any lawyer intending to practice in the area of intellectual property, litigation or otherwise. This course is designed to give the student that understanding of this unique court.