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Supreme court reviewing patent law?
Written by Gizmo   
Wednesday, 29 November 2006 14:30

In something of a refreshing twist, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to review current patent law in the case of KSR International vs. Teleflex, according to this story at The Register.  Teleflex has sued KSR because it believes that a product manufactured by KSR violates its patents.  KSR has countered by claiming that Teleflex hasn't invented anything, rather it has taken two existing technologies and combined them in an obvious way.  Additionly KSR is arguing that patents are being granted for trivial improvements to existing ideas or for combinations of existing technologies that are obvious, and this is suppressing true innovation and competition in the market place.

In general, the court appears inclined to agree.

Currently, for a plaintiff to win an 'obviousness' challenge, it must be shown that the technology being patented was inspired by a previous "teaching, suggestion, or motivation".  The problem with this notion is that it is a construct of lawyers.  I am not a lawyer (nor do I play one on TV) but I can't see that it is directly expressed in the concept of a patent as written in Title 35 Sections 102 and 103 of the United States Code, and IMO only a grossly liberal interpretation of the code could even come up with such a construction.

Again, the court appears inclined to agree.  Justice Scalia called the requirement "gobbledy-gook" and "meaningless".  Chief Justice said it is "worse than meaningless, because it complicates the question rather than focusing on the statute."

Now, predictably, there are a significant number of well moneyed foes filing briefs with the court supporting the current system.  And Teleflex warned that it could lead to "dramatic instability" if the court goes mucking about with a system that has been in place for 20 years.

The court is expected to rule on this case in July, but if the court rules the way it appears to be leaning right now, the repercussions of that decision could reverberate throughout our legal system for a decade.

More on this can be found at GrokLaw  

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