Ken Parker in the Recorder: High Court Bulks Up on IP Cases


The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Friday to hear two patent cases and one high-profile copyright fight, bringing the number of IP disputes on its docket to an unusual high.

In a terse order, the justices agreed to hear copyright infringement claims against Aereo Inc., an online television start-up that threatens the broadcasting industry. The high court also granted cert in Akamai Technologies Inc. v. Limelight Networks Inc., which raises the question of whether tech companies can be liable if they induce patent infringement by third parties. Finally, the court took up Nautilus Inc. v. Biosig Instruments Inc., in which the fitness company Nautilus challenges the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit's approach to determining whether a patent is too indefinite. Our affiliate the National Law Journal has more on the cert grants here.

Even before Friday's ruling, the Supreme Court had an unusually high number of IP cases on its docket. The grand total now stands at five patent cases and two copyright cases...

Perhaps the most closely watched IP case on the court's docket is Alice Corp v. CLS Bank International, which got the nod on December 6. The entire Federal Circuit agreed to review that case in hopes of clarifying what sort of ideas are eligible for patenting, but ended up issuing a muddled six-part decision that provided little clarity. Many practitioners welcomed the cert grant in CLS Bank, but Kenneth Parker of Haynes and Boone, LLP, who isn't involved in the cases, told us that in e-mail that the patent bar should be careful what it wishes for. "Previous efforts by the high court created more uncertainty and increased costs, not reduced them," he wrote. "Hopefully the Court gets it right this time around."

Excerpted from the Recorder, January 13, 2014. To view full article, click here (subscription required).

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