An International Guide to
Patent Case Management for Judges

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10.10.2 U.S. Supreme Court

Article III, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution establishes the Supreme Court of the United States. Since 1869, the Court has had nine Justices. The Constitution provides that, among other things, the Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction to review decisions of the lower courts.

A party seeking Supreme Court review of an appellate decision must petition the Court for a writ of certiorari, which is a request that the Supreme Court order a lower court (typically a U.S. court of appeals, such as the Federal Circuit, or the highest court in a U.S. state) to send the record of a case to the Supreme Court for review. The Supreme Court’s review of cases on appeal from the Federal Circuit (or indeed, an appeal from any case heard in a lower court) is discretionary. Four of the nine Supreme Court justices must vote to accept a case for review from a lower court. In a typical year, the Court grants certiorari in about 80 of the more than 7,000 cases in which Supreme Court review is requested. The Supreme Court has heard approximately one to two patent cases per year over the past two decades.