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May 15, 2006
SCOTUS to Patent Holders: No, No, and Also No
Peter Kaplan has a Reuters story (here on the Washington Post) covering the Supreme Court decision in the eBay/MercExchange patent battle. As Kaplan paints it, the SCOTUS decision comes out rejecting a bunch of things decided by lower courts.
For one thing, MercExchange lost its injunction. The lower court now has to reconsider the injunction request, but on different grounds. For another thing, the Justices rejected a lower court's notion that there is a general right by patent holders to injunctions against infringers. Finally, they appear to have soundly rejected the US District Court's opinion that failure to use a patent (by manufacture or license) is grounds for losing the injunction right. I don't think that SCOTUS expressely addressed the notion of "patent trolls" but Kaplan points to a concurring opinion signed by four Justices that expresses sympathy with the concerns of companies - particularly in high tech - that feel they are being held hostage by patent holders who have no function other than to sue everyone in sight.
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