When the Supreme Court decides a case, the result is binding on all of us. The Court will be busy with patent, copyright and trademark cases over the next few months. The following are a few highlights:
1. Are computer-implemented inventions patentable? Particularly, is a general purpose computer programmed to perform a specific function patentable? Alice Corp. v CLS Bank International, No. 13-298 will revisit this question. This case has great importance to software inventors and persons accused of infringing software patents.
2. Is re-broadcast of a TV program in the form of on-line streaming to paying subscribers a copyright violation? On the one hand, the broadcaster released the program to the world when it sent the program out over the air. On the other hand, the broadcaster still owns the copyright. American Broadcasting Companies v Aereo, No. 13-461 is the pending Supreme Court case on the subject. See our previous article.
3. Is a person liable for patent infringement where that person induces two or more people acting in concert to perform all of the steps of a method patent when no one person infringes the patent? This issue is crucial for, say, Internet-enabled inventions where different steps in the invention can be performed by different parties and even on different continents. Limelight Networks v Akamai Technologies, No. 12-786, will answer this question.
4. Can a person be sued by a private party under trademark law for false advertising for a product that is pervasively regulated under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act? This case will resolve a tension between two different laws. The case is POM Wonderful v The Coca-Cola Company, 12-761.
— Robert Yarbrough, Esq.