On June 23, 2014, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency. The question in this case was whether the EPA permissibly determined that its regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from new motor vehicles triggered permitting requirements under the Clean Air Act for stationary sources that emit greenhouse gases (“GHGs”).
Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to parts I and II, which held that the EPA could not require a source to obtain a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) or Title V permit solely on the basis that the source emits GHGs. The Court also concluded, however, that the EPA could reasonably interpret the Clean Air Act to allow for the regulation of GHG emissions from sources already subject to regulation under the PSD and Title V program.
Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy joined the opinion of the Court in full. Justices Thomas and Alito joined the opinion as to parts I, II-A, and II-B-1. Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined as to Part II-B-2. Justice Breyer filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Justices Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined. Justice Alito filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, which Justice Thomas joined. The judgement of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit was affirmed in part and reversed in part.
To discuss these cases, we have Robert R. Gasaway, who is a partner at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP.
On June 2, 2014, the Supreme Court issued opinions in two property rights cases, Limelight Networks v. Akamai Technologies and Nautilus v. Biosig Instruments.
The question in Limelight v. Akamai Technologies was whether the Federal Circuit erred in holding that a defendant may be held liable for inducing patent infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b) even though no one has committed direct infringement under Section 271(a).
In an opinion delivered by Justice Alito, the Court held unanimously that a defendant is not liable for inducing infringement when no one has directly infringed under Section 271(a) or any other statute. The decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit was reversed and the case remanded.
The questions in Nautilus v. Biosig Instruments were (1) Whether the Federal Circuit’s acceptance of ambiguous patent claims with multiple reasonable interpretations – so long as the ambiguity is not “insoluble” by a court – defeats the statutory requirement of particular and distinct patent claiming; and (2) whether the presumption of validity dilutes the requirement of particular and distinct patent claiming.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Ginsburg, the Court unanimously rejected the Federal Circuit’s “insolubly ambiguous” standard and held instead that a patent is invalid for indefiniteness if its claims, read in light of the patent specification and prosecution history, failed to inform those skilled in the art about the scope of the invention. With respect to the presumption of validity, the Court determined that in this case it ultimately did not affect the particularity requirement. The decision of the Federal Circuit was vacated and the case remanded for consideration under the standard articulated by the Supreme Court.
To discuss the case, we have Aaron M. Panner, Partner, Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, P.L.L.C and Thomas G. Saunders, Partner, WilmerHale.
On June 19, 2014, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Alice Corporation Pty. Ltd. v. CLS Bank International. The question in the case is whether, for purposes of obtaining a patent, claims to computer-implemented inventions – including claims to a computer-implemented system for mitigating settlement risks – are directed to patent-eligible subject matter within the meaning of 35 U.S.C. § 101, as interpreted by the Supreme Court.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Thomas, the Court held unanimously that the claims at issue were drawn to the abstract idea of intermediated settlement, and that merely requiring generic computer implementation failed to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention. The Supreme Court therefore affirmed the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Justice Sotomayor filed a concurring opinion, joined by Justices Ginsburg and Breyer.
To discuss the case, we have Prof. Adam Mossoff, Professor of Law and Co-Director of Academic Programs and Senior Scholar at the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property, George Mason University School of Law.
On June 25, 2014, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo. This case involves the question of whether, under sections 101 and 106 of the Copyright Act, a company “publicly performs” a copyrighted television program--a privilege normally reserved to the copyright holder--when it retransmits a broadcast of that program to thousands of paid subscribers over the Internet.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Breyer, the Court held by a vote of 6-3 that Aereo is not simply an “equipment supplier” and that it performs petitioners’ works publicly within the meaning of the Transmit Clause. Chief Justice Roberts as well as Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan joined the opinion of the Court. Justice Scalia authored a dissenting opinion which Justices Thomas and Alito joined. The decision of the Second Circuit was reversed.
To discuss the case, we have Mark Schultz, who is an Associate Professor of Law at the Southern Illinois University School of Law.
On June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Harris v. Quinn. The central question in this case concerned whether a state can, consistent with the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution, compel in-home care providers paid for through Medicare, also known as “personal assistants” or “PAs,” to financially support a union to be their exclusive representative with respect to employment-related collective bargaining.
In an opinion delivered by Justice Alito, the Court held by a vote of 5-4 that the First Amendment prohibits the collection of an agency fee from PAs who do not want to join or support the union. Chief Justice Roberts, and Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas joined the opinion of the Court. Justice Kagan wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor. The decision of the Seventh Circuit was reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded.
To discuss the case, we have Andrew Grossman who is an Associate at Baker & Hostetler LLP and Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute.