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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.

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.

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.

Fee-shifting has long since been broken in the Federal Circuit. Chief Judge Randall Rader has written an op-ed and numerous concurrences on the subjecting, lamenting the lack of fee awards and the circuit's uniquely high standard for shifting fees.

He got his wish. Yesterday, in a pair of extremely important decisions, the Supreme Court, as predicted, fixed fee-shifting. How? By dropping the Federal Circuit's impossibly high standard down to a "case-by-case exercise" of a trial judge's discretion, a discretion which must be respected on appeal now that the circuit's de novo review has been dropped as well.

Chief Judge Rader got his wish. The trial courts have their tools. If they use them, this could go a long way toward fighting frivolous patent trolling.

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 FindLaw.com, 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.