New Year’s Day prompts us to reflect on what the last 12 months have brought, so I’ve taken the opportunity to think back on 2012’s intellectual property developments. It’s been a busy year, with patent reform, new technologies, multilateral treaties, and more. To make my task more manageable, I’m going to focus on three important patent law cases – one at the Supreme Court level, one at the appellate level, and one at the trial court level. I’ll conclude with an extra-special bonus: the Case To Watch for patent law in 2013. Then, in my next entry in this series, I’ll do the same for copyright.
My choice at the Supreme Court is Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc., in which the Court confronted the issue of patent-eligible subject matter. That’s an issue the Court ignored for almost 30 years. It resurfaced in 2010, when the Court decided Bilski v. Kappos. Bilski was mostly about software and business-method patents, and it relied on the long-standing restriction on patenting “abstract ideas.” In Prometheus, the Court addressed another important industry – medicine and biotech – and it did so by relying on another categorical exclusion: “laws of nature.” [...]
James Gibson, The Top Three Patent Cases of 2012, The Media Institute (Jan. 03, 2013), available at http://www.mediainstitute.org/IPI/2013/010313.php.