FYI – this insight from the Wall Street Journal – As Patents Grow More Contentious, Battleground Shifts to High Court:
With the economy increasingly dependent on technological innovation, the Supreme Court is scrutinizing more patent rulings made by a special court that critics say has tilted too far in favor of intellectual-property rights and could be stifling competition.
The high court, which today hears arguments in one of three patent cases on this term’s docket, has ruled in recent cases on the side of more flexibility in enforcing such rights. If that trend continues, it could translate into weaker protections for patent holders and promote greater access to inventions.
The Supreme Court’s newfound assertiveness on core issues of patent law — after hearing only a handful of cases in the field over 20-plus years — comes amid a sharp debate over how to maintain American industry’s competitive edge while upholding the protections that reward the risk-taking behind cutting-edge inventions.
In today’s economy, for instance, many innovations — such as software programs, drugs or advanced electronics — are built on myriad smaller inventions. That has led to disputes between owners of component patents and those who incorporate those pieces into more complex products, leaving federal courts to delineate who owns what.
There are three major patent cases that the Supreme Court will decide before the end of this term in June 2007. These three will go along way to reshaping patent law. But ultimately the Congress needs to step up and pass patent reform legislation. Let us hope the new Congress is up to that task.