Companies use work, school links to gain legal advantage in patent infringement cases
Michigan News 6/29/20
Corporations seek and secure favorable legal decisions by retaining attorneys who have worked for or studied with federal judges, a new study reveals.
The study, published this month in the journal Administrative Science Quarterly, was written by Maxim Sytch of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and Yong H. Kim of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. They studied companies’ choice of U.S. federal district courts and their legal outcomes in patent infringement cases related to biotechnology and pharmaceuticals from 1990 to 2013.
Sytch and Kim found that corporations use common educational and professional links among lawyers and judges “to manufacture legal advantage.” That’s possible because the companies, as plaintiffs, have great flexibility in choosing a federal court—where patent infringement cases are heard—for lawsuits.
Still, the strategy comes with risks, as judges are randomly assigned to ensure impartiality. Getting a judge with no such affiliations could leave a legal team less skilled and prepared for the case at hand, the study finds.
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