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Patents at the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court now has its hands full with patent cases. Among the biggest are:

  • eBay v. MercExchange (cert granted today, on the standards for injunctive relief in patent cases)
  • LabCorp v. Metabolite (on patentable subject matter)
  • Illinois Tool Works v. Independent Ink (on the patent/antitrust intersection; oral argument happens tomorrow — 11/29)

(Hal Wegner’s list of ten patent cases at the Supreme Court, annotated with briefing deadlines, is available via I/P Updates.)

Never mind Joe’s comment regarding eBay — “If the Court writes narrowly, it will be the most important patent case since Chakrabarty or Diehr. If the Court writes broadly, it will be the most important patent case (perhaps even the most important patent or copyright case) in a century.” — this is a blockbuster group. The number of cases active at the Court signals a major shift in the tenor of the law, and perhaps a rewriting of some fundamental structures of patent law as we’ve come to know them under the Federal Circuit. After all, if the Supreme Court simply wanted to give the Federal Circuit a big pat on the back, why would the Court take so many major cases? The nation’s highest court seems poised to re-assert its position as the supreme arbiter of American patent law.

But why now?