The Supreme Court rarely looks at patent cases, usually considering them rather boring commercial disputes. So, the fact that they've been looking at a variety of patent cases lately is worth paying attention to. In the first, and perhaps most well publicized case, the question of whether or not the correct remedy for infringement should be to shut down the infringer has been reviewed, and the court has sided with eBay over MercExchange -- saying that automatic injunctions are not always the proper remedy. Note that the case has absolutely nothing to do with the validity of the patents in question (which are, of course, in dispute), but simply over whether or not a company found infringing on a patent should automatically have any infringing products banned from the market place. The issue here is that many patent holders like the injunctions because it's a huge stick, that could potentially put competitors completely out of business. This puts more pressure on the firms that are being sued to simply settle, rather than actually go through with the process of finding out if the patents are valid and if they actually infringe. While some groups are already complaining about this ruling, it actually does seem quite balanced. It doesn't take away the ability to issue an injunction at all. It simply says that it shouldn't be an automatic. Instead, the court needs to weigh a variety of factors in determining if an injunction makes sense, given the infringement. This seems perfectly reasonable, and it's hard to see how (as the upset Ronald J. Riley, of the Professional Inventors Alliance states) this amounts to a compulsory license at all. The injunction isn't taken away as a possible remedy -- but, instead, the court gets to look at all the factors in determining if it's a fair remedy, which seems... well... fair.
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