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When Marvel Comics brought a super hero with them to the Supreme Court recently, they were hoping a pulp hero could help them defeat "outdated" patent rules. Spiderman's powers, however, were no match for stare decisis. As the Supreme Court ruled on Monday, stare decisis required them to uphold patent precedent, even if they thought, hypothetically, that it was wrongly decided.

In particular, Marvel was asking the Court to overrule Brulotte v. Thys Co., a 1964 case that applied a bright line prohibition on the payment of royalties after a patent had expired. Marvel wanted to continue an agreement where it paid royalties on certain toys -- particularly, one Spiderman figurine which shot foam string from its palm -- and urged the Court to reject what it thought was outdated economic reasoning behind the Brulotte rule. The High Court declined.

Belief in Patent's Validity Not a Defense to Inducing Infringement

The end-of-term madness continues as the Supreme Court today issued four new opinions, dealing with bankruptcy, bankruptcy, whistleblowing, and patents. It's this last case that concerns us today.

Commil USA has a patent on a particular method of extending the range of wireless networks. It sued Cisco Systems, claiming infringement of its patent in Cisco's network equipment. Commil also claimed that Cisco induced others to infringe its patent by selling the network equipment containing the allegedly infringing technology.

In Teeth-Whitening Case, SCOTUS Extends Antitrust Immunity Exception

Teeth whitening may not be "the practice of dentistry." Who knew? On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court declared, 6-3, that the determinations of a state regulatory board can be actionable as antitrust if the board is composed of market participants who are using the power of the state to shut out competition.

The Court's opinion extended the doctrine of state-action antitrust immunity to include state regulatory agencies composed of private market participants. Before this case, it applied only to private bodies granted state regulatory authority, or other private entities effectively engaging in state action.

Details on SCOTUS' Sanction of Patent Attorney Howard Shipley

What does it take to get disciplined by the Supreme Court Bar? How about letting your client write the briefs? Back in December, the Court issued an order to attorney Howard Shipley to show cause why he shouldn't be sanctioned for his conduct in connection with a cert. petition in the case Sigram Schindler Beteiligungsgesellschaft MBH v. Lee.

That was a patent case dealing with claim construction, but patent watchers like the website Patently-O thought the petition looked a little weird. In fact, look at the petition for yourself: It's extremely weird and uses a tremendous amount of highly technical language and equations.

4 Grants: Bankruptcy, Patent Royalties, Life Sentences for Minors

The U.S. Supreme Court released its latest orders list Friday, granting certiorari in four cases. And unlike the typical list of snoozers, this list contained a case of national importance: Toca v. Louisiana.

Toca is all about clarifying the Court's Miller v. Alabama decision -- the one from 2012 where the Court declared that mandatory minimum life sentences for juvenile offenders were cruel and unusual under the Eighth Amendment. Since then, federal and state courts and legislatures have split over whether that decision applied retroactively to past convictions (and therefore required resentencing).

Besides that massive case, the court granted three other petitions: two bankruptcy cases and a reexamination of patent royalty precedent.

3 New Grants: Texas License Plates, La. Execution, Patents

Happy Friday y'all! Today's breaking news out of the Supreme Court involves grants in three cases -- two from Texas and one from Louisiana. The first case, and the more important one in my opinion, is the First Amendment license plate case that we've covered previously -- the state of Texas is denying requests for Confederate flag vanity plates.

Also from Texas, the Court will take on patent issues once again in a spat over Cisco's Wi-Fi products.

Finally, in a death penalty case out of Louisiana, the Court will have the opportunity to flesh out their holding from Atkins v. Virginia. More specifically, do courts have to hold a separate hearing regarding mental disability and competency to be executed? And do they have to cover the tab for evaluations?

Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Cert. Petition

"My dear Holmes," I said, eyeing the cert. petition warily. "What could this be? Hasn't the estate lost to Mr. Leslie Klinger already?"

"Correct, Watson," said Holmes. "There can be no doubt that the Estate of Arthur Conan Doyle, in an opinion by Mr. Posner, was thoroughly rebuffed. You'll recall, I hope, the facts of that matter."

"Was it not true that the original four novels and first 46 stories were no longer protected by copyright, but the final 10 were?"

Latest Lot: Software Patents Limited, Free Speech Firing, Taxes

Once, twice, three times unanimous. In a highly uncontroversial lot of opinions, the Supreme Court tackled a long list of tasks: limiting abstract software patents, clarifying that a public employee can't be fired over compelled testimony, and providing a reasonable means to challenge the motive behind the tax man's subpoenas.

We know -- it's not exactly the big, bad cases you were hoping for, but like all special snowflakes, these opinions will have an impact in the real world.

Case of the Mondays: Supreme Court Grants, Denials, and 3 Opinions

Mondays aren't all bad. Sure, they mean traffic, a return to work, and a desperate need to run to Chotchkie's, but for Supreme Court junkies, at least while the Court is in session, Mondays can bring an orders list full of certiorari grants and denials, plus merits opinions.

We've got all of the above today, and better yet: it's mostly interesting. The Court has declined to address the reporter's shield or privilege in an appeal from a New York Times reporter and author, but will address the touchy matter of gerrymandering congressional districts. The Court also double-reversed the Federal Circuit again, and handed down an opinion in the housewife's revenge via chemical weapons case.

SCOTUS: Statutory Time Limits Suffice, No Laches in Copyright

Twenty-nine years after the film about Jake LaMotta's life was released, the daughter of Frank P. Petrella, who penned two screenplays and co-authored a book about the late boxer, brought suit, alleging copyright infringement.

Twenty-nine years. In that time, witnesses died, alleged agreements disappeared, the transferred rights to the original works were renewed by Pamela Petrella, and MGM Grand invested heavily in the movie, signing distribution agreements with online and broadcast video providers.