Supreme Court Leaves Us Hanging On Crucial Patent Case

from the big-surprise-there dept

We've become used to the Supreme Court avoiding major patent issues, as it tends to rule on peripheral aspects of the law or refuse such cases outright. So it's no surprise that the Supreme Court has punted in the case of LabCorp Vs. Metabolite on the question of whether medical facts can be patented. In the case, LabCorp had argued that it wasn't guilty of patent infringement by employing a therapy that relied upon a specific medical phenomenon patented by Metabolite. Unfortunately, instead of resolving this important issue, the court dismissed the case over an undisclosed technicality. In the minority, three judges seemed to grasp the gravity of the case, noting that the failure to resolve it "threatens to leave the medical profession subject to the restrictions imposed by this individual patent and others of its kind". In the meantime, the best we can hope for is that more restrictions prompt another case to wind its way through the courts.


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  1.  
    identicon
    J.R., Jun 22nd, 2006 @ 2:26pm

    The Supreme Court shows once again that it doesn't always grasp the true gravity of a case... I sometimes wonder about this particular Court.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Joe Smith, Jun 22nd, 2006 @ 2:47pm

    Read the dissent

    The dissenting opinion seems to have a very clear understanding of the stakes and talks about the possibility of patents creating obstacles to innovation and the problem of transaction costs.

    The majority has apparently not said why they decided to not decide the case. It may be that the record (body of evidence) in the case did not provide an appropriate basis for deciding the underlying patent law issue.

    There is something profoundly screwy about the underlying decision at the trial and appeal and that may be part of the reason that SCOTUS decided to abandon the case.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2006 @ 2:48pm

    Must of been a tie on who threw the most money there way

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    william williams, Jun 22nd, 2006 @ 2:50pm

    the cure

    Imagine going to the doctor and being told I'm sorry I can't treat you this other company has a patent on the treatment that would cure you. You'll have to go to them.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    I, for one, Jun 22nd, 2006 @ 3:13pm

    seems familiar

    We're seeing rather a lot of this. EFF v AT&T and LabCorp v Metabolite are just the latest cases where the courts and judges are buckling on very important high profile decisions. They are either: i) Properly on the side of popular justice and waiting for a 100% decisive victory rather than risking a loss on a technicality. ii) Procrastinating under political pressure. In which case there is no longer any basis for confidence in the courts.

    @#3
    Must of been a tie on who threw the most money their way. [ /spelling nazi]

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    satan, Jun 22nd, 2006 @ 3:22pm

    Re:

    that's my thinking too

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    JM, Jun 22nd, 2006 @ 3:32pm

    Re:

    Well look at the judges who make it up for Christ's sake!

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2006 @ 4:13pm

    corporatism

    it is corporatism at its best

    sounds like a decision a ceo or manager would make in a corporation

    just pass the buck and don't decide anything

    I am sad for our country - it ran by nothing but middle managers.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2006 @ 4:58pm

    Chief Justice Roberts has said that he is avoiding most devisive issues this session in order to build a consistent viewpoint across the court and bring some predictability to a previously unpredictable court. He has avoided taking important cases in a number of disciplines with the intent of tackling more important cases next session. Its important for him to build a good foundation within the court prior to moving forward to abortion, patents, tort reform, etc. Hopefully next session, he will tackle patents

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    DV Henkel-Wallace, Jun 22nd, 2006 @ 5:49pm

    These method patents are very hard to enforce

    In general people won't take out this sort of patent because it's hard to enforce (we come up with similar stuff all the time and don't even want to publish it in since then it's public knowledge). Let's say I learn that drinking a glass of salt water makes my headache tablet be absorbed faster, but it works for asprin and all the other painkillers too (don't try that -- I just made it up). You can't stop 400,000 doctors from telling their patients to do it. OK, only my company could advertise it, but all the other companies would benefit. So I just don't bother to investigate it further.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2006 @ 5:57pm

    In this case Roberts recused himself because his old law firm represented LabCorp.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Gunjin, Jun 22nd, 2006 @ 6:48pm

    This particular court?

    May I remind you that, with the exception of a couple of members, this is the same court that has been deciding cases for the last 15 years.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Clair Ching, Jun 22nd, 2006 @ 8:44pm

    Silly

    I find this a little too silly and impractical. Would this mean that we can't share any facts freely anymore? Or how about research? Geez. Wouldn't this be the death of r&d?

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Thomason, Jun 26th, 2006 @ 7:01am

    Split

    Congress has shown it is split on reforming the patent statute, and so too, is the Supreme Court split on whether or how to recast the law on patenting methods.
    Is everything becoming a 50/50 proposition - the popular vote for president, the party makeup of the Senate, whether a patent will be upheld in court or not, the numbers of people for and against patenting business methods, whether Anna Nicole will get to keep the love money........

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    discount viagra, Sep 27th, 2006 @ 1:55pm

    discount viagra

    discount viagra

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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