Supreme Court hears patent, antitrust cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF] Tuesday in KSR International Co. v. Teleflex Inc. [Duke Law case backgrounder; merit briefs], 04-1350, a case involving a fight over a patent on adjustable pedal assemblies for engines. At issue is what constitutes a patent claim that is "obvious" under 35 USC 103(a) [text]. In January 2005 the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed [opinion, PDF] the district court's grant of summary judgment for KSR, holding that it erred in deeming the invention obvious. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia seemed to agree that the test for patent obviousness is unclear, with Scalia going so far as to describe it as "gobbledygook." CNET News has more.

Also Tuesday, the Court heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF] in Weyerhaeuser Co. v. Ross-Simmons Hardwood Lumber Co., Inc. [Duke Law case backgrounder; merit briefs], 05-381, concerning Weyerhaeuser's alleged monopolization of the lumber industry as prohibited under Section 2 [text] of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Ross-Simmons sued Weyerhaeuser, complaining that the company purchased more logs than it needed at unnecessarily high prices to drive competitors out of business. Weyerhauser argued that the District Court applied the wrong standard to determine if the company's actions violated antitrust laws. Its lawyer argued that the correct standard, as set forth in Brooke Group v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco, requires a plaintiff to show "(1) 'the prices complained of are below an appropriate measure of its rival's costs,' and (2) 'a dangerous probability' existed that the rival would later 'recoup its investment in below-cost prices' once it stopped such pricing." The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed [PDF text] the district court's decision, holding that the Brooke Group standard does not apply to buy-side monopolies. AP has more.



 

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