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It's a big week for oral arguments in the Court, with fascinating questions of statutory interpretation in the areas of gun purchasing regulations and criminal restitution.

Meanwhile, are two of the court's liberal justices feuding? And if so, who has more support on the Court?

It's been an unusually busy day on First Street, with the court granting certiorari in two cases after yesterday's conference, and with a minor surprise in the ongoing nationwide litigation over Aereo, a service that streams local broadcast channels over the internet to subscribers.

The two new cases, Fifth Third Bancorp v. Dudenhoefer and Loughrin v. United States both involve banks, but that's where the similarities end. The former case asks whether a bank has a fiduciary duty to divest stock in itself from employees' stock plans when it knows or should know that it is engaging in risky (subprime lending) business practices. In the latter case, the Court will decide whether the government has to prove that a defendant who passed stolen checks at Target had the intent to defraud the bank or financial institution specifically.

You can patent a snow plow or a new combustion engine. You cannot, however, patent an abstract idea, such as using an intermediary for escrow purposes in a financial transaction.

But wait, what if you write a computer program that makes that abstract idea a reality? Does translating an idea into code turn it from an unpatentable abstraction to a patentable practical invention?

That's the issue in Alice Corporation v. CLS Bank. Alice's founder wrote a program that calculates the obligations of parties entering into a currency exchange transaction, which can take days to complete. The program basically acts as an escrow service.

Tired of waiting for the return of the Court?

The first official business of the 2013 term is here, with the Supreme Court issuing an orders list granting certiorari in eight cases. Recall that their summer backlog consisted of about 2,000 petitions, so we'd expect to hear more next week.

As for this week's business, from overrated boxing movies to fee-shifting issues in IP cases, here are the first four (of eight total) grants:

If you are hoping for a decision on same sex marriage, DOMA, or the Voting Rights Act, we'll save you some time -- none were released today. Today's rulings were more than mere brush-clearing, however. These holdings have major impacts on state voting laws, fundamental criminal procedure at all levels, and our oft-criticized pharmaceutical industry.

Interested in proof-of-citizenship voting laws, the right to a jury, or cheaper drugs? Read on.

Lets start this off with a little disclaimer: We, the lawyer-bloggers of, are not scientists. We'd venture a guess that neither are you. And according to his confused concurrence, neither is Justice Scalia.

We do understand one thing from this case, however: the human genetic code cannot be patented, no matter how much effort went in to discovering the DNA sequences. Synthetic cDNA, however, can be. Lost in the alphabet soup? It'll make sense soon enough.

Our nation's greatest court, with nary a hint of dispute, dissention, or differing reason, released three unanimous opinions today. And while some (the tow yard) will likely have little-to-no impact in the real world, another (Monsanto's soybean patent case) may have a far greater impact, especially in the areas of genetically modified crops, vaccines, and any other self-replicating products.

Monsanto Roundup-Ready Soybeans

In many ways, Monsanto giveth, and Monsanto taketh away. They invented an herbicide that kills pests -- and plants. They also invented a plant that resists that herbicide -- the Roundup-Ready soybean. And while they'll give you the genetically altered soybeans to plant (for a fee, of course), they take away the right to replant those beans in subsequent years through patent enforcement and licensing agreements.

Will the SCOTUS Actually Resolve Genetic Patents This Time?

The Supreme Court will start its final sitting of the 2012 Term with what might be the most controversial intellectual property case of the year, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc.

The case presents a simple question about a complex process: Are human genes patentable?

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has twice ruled that they are, but the Supreme Court’s decision last year in Mayo v. Prometheus Laboratories casts doubt on that theory.

Are Pay-for-Delay Deals Anti-Competitive?

The Federal Trade Commission believes that paying a prospective rival to stay out of a competition is the very definition of anti-competitive behavior, but the federal courts are split on the matter, Reuters reports.

Monday, the Supreme Court will take a stab at resolving whether brand and generic drug manufacturers should be allowed to enter into mutually-beneficial pay-for-delay arrangements.

First Sale Doctrine Applies to Books 'Lawfully Made Abroad'

Get ready to resell your books, ladies and gentlemen. The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that the first sale doctrine does apply to works made overseas, Publishers Weekly reports.

The first sale doctrine in copyright law allows the owner of a lawfully-purchased copyrighted work to resell it without limitations imposed by the copyright holder.