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U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court Reverses Federal Circuit Once Again On Patent-Law Matters

Gigaom reports on the adverse affects the Federal Circuit is having on patent law: "There are many explanations for the sorry state of the U.S. patent system, but one that comes up on a regular basis is the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The pro-patent proclivity of the court, which hears every patent appeal in the land, has given it a 'rogue' reputation and forced the Supreme Court to reverse its decisions again and again. This week, the Supremes did so once more."

The issue, SCOTUSblog reports, is who "bears the burden of persuasion when a user of technology files suit against a patent-holder, seeking a declaratory judgment that its actions do not infringe a particular patent." Under the Supreme Court's ruling, the burden of proof rests with the patent-holder, not with the alleged infringer seeking the declaratory judgment.

The ruling should help tech firms and inventors keep one step ahead of patent trolls wielding their intellectual-property troves as revenue-generating swords through patent-infringement lawsuits.

U.S. Supreme Court Asked to Review Delaware's Oversight of Private Arbitrations

After the Third Circuit rejected the Delaware Court of Chancery from overseeing private arbitrations, Delaware has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review what some called "secret trials," Reuters reports. "The arbitration process was seen by Delaware attorneys as a key to boosting the attractiveness of the Court of Chancery," Reuters further reports. "It was also considered economically important to the state, as at least one company in an arbitration dispute had to be incorporated in Delaware."

U.S. Supreme Court Takes Up Raging Bull Copyright Fight

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Raging Bull copyrght case today. Reuters reports. The plaintiff, who inherited rights to the screenplay after her father's death in 1981, is seeking damages for alleged copyright violations. MGM, however, raised a laches defense, arguing that the plaintiff took too long to seek redress.

States Taking 'Half Measures' to Curb Mandatory Life Sentences For Juveniles

Even though the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled unconstitutional sentencing juveniles to mandatory life sentences, the New York Times reports that "most states have taken half measures, at best, to carry out the rulings, which could affect more than 2,000 current inmates and countless more in years to come." State supreme courts have been split on whether the ruling was retroactive, The Times further reports.

One example of a long sentence is a 70-year sentence given to a 14-year-0ld in Florida.

The Times also notes: "Pennsylvania has the most inmates serving automatic life sentences for murders committed when they were juveniles: more than 450, according to the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia. In October, the State Supreme Court found that the Miller ruling did not apply to these prior murder convictions, creating what the law center, a private advocacy group, called an 'appallingly unjust situation' with radically different punishments depending on the timing of the trial."

SCOTUS Takes On Conflict Between Compulsory Union Fees and the First Amendment

The Washington Post's Robert Barnes writes that "compulsory union fees conflict with the First Amendment’s protection against forced association and speech," but Supreme Court precedent allows for public employees who opt out of union membership to still be forced to "pay 'fair share' fees to support the organization’s collective-bargaining work." The issue is coming up in a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court on whether Illinois in-home assistants to peoples with disabilities and other people who otherwise could be institutionalized (paid through Medicaid-waiver programs) have to pay union fees. The justices are being asked to overrule their precedent.

U.S. Supreme Court Takes Up Cases That'll Determine Privacy in Our Cell Phones

The U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in two cases on whether police making an arrest must get a warrant before searching a suspect's mobile phone, Bloomberg reports. "More than 90 percent of American adults own mobile phones, giving the cases broad practical significance. The outcome also may hint at how the justices would view the National Security Agency’s telephone-data program, an issue likely bound for the high court," Bloomberg further writes.

Ruling Rejecting Recess Appointment Could Upend Hundreds of Labor Disputes

The U.S. Supreme Court's decision on whether it is constitutional for the president to make appointments during legislative recesses will not only have a big impact on the separation of powers. A decision rejecting recess appointments will upend hundreds of labor disputes decided by the National Labor Relations Board, The Washington Post reports. '“Regardless of whether you’re in the business community or organized labor, you want to know that the agency is operating with legal authority,' said Steven Bernstein, a labor lawyer who represents employers. 'You want to get it right the first time and make the results stick so you don’t face the possibility of waking up and doing it all over again,'" The Post further reports.

US Supreme Court Asked to Recognize Reporters' Privilege

New York Times reporter James Risen, who federal prosecutors are seeking to have identify his confidential sources in a criminal case against an alleged CIA leaker, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether he is entitled to reporters privilege, Politico reports. At issue Risen's counsel argued in the petition is if journalists have a a qualified First Amendment privilege regarding confidential sources in criminal trials and if a common law privilege should be recognized for journalists under Federal Rule of Evidence 501.

U.S. Supreme Court's Workload Might Reach New Low

The U.S. Supreme Court's workload might reach a new low because the court will consider only half the usual number of cases when it convenes in March, The Washington Post's Robert Barnes reports. Yet the issues the court will consider are central to American society- whether corporations are entitled to religious expression, affirmative action and separation of powers between the presidency and Congress over the appointment of governmental officials, Barnes writes. “The court has had several cases implicating major issues of national debate each of the last few years. What that shows is that this is a court that’s not at all shy about tackling hot-button issues,” Supreme Court litigator Kannon Shanmugam told Barnes.

U.S. Supreme Court to Consider If Creditors Can Pursue Argentina's Sovereign Assets

One of the cases that the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari on last week was the case of bondholders who are seeking repayment of the sovereign debt Argentina defaulted on, BBC reported. The court will decide if American law protects Argentinian sovereign assets from collection. Argentina defaulted on "some $100bn (worth £60.7bn in 2014) of debts and has since restructured its debt twice, cancelling around 75% of the nominal value of the bonds," BBC further reports.


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