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October 4, 2006

Supreme Court Considers Patent Dispute With Tech Implications

The Supreme Court heard arguments today on a case that has implications for the technology industry and beyond.  The Court heard the case of MedImmune v. Genentech which involves challenging patents under license.  MedImmune licensed a drug patent from Genentech "under protest."  MedImmune wants to challenge the patent but that would violate the license agreement and leave them subject to potential damages.  The U.S. Government intervened on the side of MedImmune.  The Supreme Court is essentially deciding whether these challenges are valid even under a license agreement.

Universities who hold large stores of patents said the cost of licensing would go up if they had to defend the validity of their intellectual property.  It's no secret that the Patent Office cannot review patents at the same pace as litigation in the federal courts.  That was obvious in the Research In Motion Blackberry case that concluded with a settlement over the summer.  Technology companies also use patents as sources or revenue as well as ways to lock up methods to distinguish their products from those of other companies. 

Even though the Court heard arguments in the case today, the transcript is available on the Court's web site.  This is a new feature by the Court to make electronic transcripts available on the same day arguments are heard.  Congratulations to the court for making another step to the 21st century.

News stories on the patent case are in MSNBC, the Houston Chronicle, Law.com, and Business Week.

October 4, 2006 | Permalink

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