Thursday, May 28, 2009

WSJ: IP 'a major focus for the high court.' Seriously?

This Wall Street Journal article plows over some familiar ground in recounting Sonia Sotomayor's experience as an IP litigator and a judge adjudicating copyright and trademark disputes. It also includes the following sentence:
Intellectual-property law has emerged as a major focus for the high court amid growing concern about the scope and practical application of intellectual-property protections.
IP law is a "major focus for the high court"? Seriously? Is there even a shred of evidence to support that statement? The Court hears about 70 cases per term. In recent years, one or maybe two of those have been IP cases. I call that a "tiny fraction" -- not a "major focus."


  1. While that is true, I would also say that sometimes the court's decision not to hear a case is just as important as the ones it hears.

    Still, I agree that "major focus" is probably overdoing it. Despite all of the hubbub from you, me and others like us, neither SCOTUS or the Congress seem to be making IP a priority.

  2. Contrary to what you and Jonathan Baily have said, I'd definitely call at least 8 patent cases since 2005 a "major focus" -

    Merck KGaA v. Integra Lifesciences I,
    Unitherm Food Systems v. Swift-Eckrich, Illinois Tool Works v. Independent Ink,
    eBay v. MercExchange,
    Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings v. Metabolite Labs.,
    MedImmune v. Genentech,
    KSR International v. Teleflex, and Microsoft v. AT&T

    I might even be leaving one or two out here, and I haven't even touched on the copyright and trademark cases that they have taken on recently.

    Add to that their decision this week to hear the very important Bilski case (which will hopefully put an end to these ridiculous "business method" patents), and I would call that a "shred" of evidence that IP has INDEED become a major focus of the Court.

  3. @Justin Levine:

    Whether it's 1-2 IP cases a year, or 2-3, that's still a tiny portion of the Supreme Court's docket. Hardly a "major focus."


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