Supreme Court's Surprising Interest In Patent Law

from the will-it-help-or-hurt? dept

While Congress is looking at various bad ideas to make the patent system even worse than it is today, it appears that the Supreme Court may be taking an interest in shaping the future of the patent system in the US as well. Some are noting how odd it is that the Supreme Court is looking at three different patent cases -- all of which may have dramatic effects on the system. The Supreme Court doesn't take many patent cases, so the fact that they're looking at three suggests the court is suddenly much more interested in patent-related issues. Whether or not that's a good thing, remains to be seen. The first two cases mentioned, we've already discussed. They involve the eBay-MercExchange battle over granting injunctions and the Metabolite case about whether or not someone can get a patent on the correlation between an amino acid and a vitamin -- i.e., something found in nature. The final case is the MedImmune case, and will determine whether or not it's okay for a company to challenge the validity of a patent after the company has already licensed the patent. The lower court said that MedImmune couldn't sue, because if it felt the patent was invalid, it never should have licensed it in the first place. This is problematic, because many companies will end up licensing patents simply to avoid the uncertainty involved in a long lawsuit. In fact, that's a big part of why RIM finally settled with NTP -- despite plenty of evidence that NTP's patents were invalid. While each of these decisions may impact patent law in some significant ways, it's still a drop in the bucket compared to what Congress could, but won't, do in improving the way the country tries to set up incentives for innovation.
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  1. identicon
    Bob, 1 May 2006 @ 7:22am


    But where the legislature leaves gaps it's up to the court system to fill them in.

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