- Professor Michael DeBow - Cumberland School of Law, Samford University
On March 3, 2015, the Supreme Court decided Direct Marketing Association v. Brohl. This case involves a Colorado law requiring retailers who do not collect Colorado sales or use tax to notify Colorado customers of their use-tax liability and to report tax-related information to customers and the Colorado Department of Revenue. A trade association of online retailers filed suit in federal district court to challenge the law, and obtained an injunction against its enforcement. On appeal, however, the Tenth Circuit reversed that judgment, holding that the Tax Injunction Act deprived the district court of jurisdiction over the case. The question before the Supreme Court is whether the Act did indeed bar the online retailers’ suit.
In a unanimous opinion delivered by Justice Thomas, the Court held that the Tax Injunction Act did not bar the trade association's lawsuit. The judgment of the Tenth Circuit was therefore reversed and the case remanded. Justice Kennedy filed a concurring opinion. Justice Ginsburg filed a concurring opinion, which Justice Breyer joined, and which Justice Sotomayor joined in part.
To discuss the case, we have Kristin Gutting, an associate professor of law at the Charleston School of Law.
The America Invents Act, the first substantial legislative changes to patent law, took effect two years ago. Late last year, attempts to reform patent law further stalled when late opposition to the proposed act was voiced. This year, a number of legislative proposals are under consideration. Some proponents of patent reform cite increasing patent litigation as a key sign that reform is necessary, while opponents argue that the empirical evidence used to support those claims is faulty. Our panel of experts will debate new and old empirical evidence, and the underlying need for further patent reform.