By Sarah Sorscher
Supreme Court to Consider Business Method Patents
Patently-O reports that the Supreme Court granted certiorari on Bilski v. Doll. The Court will address whether a patentable “process” must be tied to a particular machine or apparatus, or transform a particular article into a different state or thing. The Court will also consider whether this “machine-or-transformation” test, which effectively forecloses meaningful patent protection to many business methods, runs counter to the intent of Congress in enacting 35 U.S.C. § 273 establishing special rules for “method[s] of doing or conducting business. JOLT Digest covers the earlier en banc decision by the Federal Circuit here, and Patently-O offers a detailed summary of the earlier decision here.
Review of NASA Security Regulations Denied
The Metropolitan News-Enterprise reports that on Thursday the Ninth Circuit declined to review en banc a privacy case involving employees at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), a part of NASA. A three-judge panel of the appellate court had previously ruled that NASA’s mandatory background checks threatened workers’ constitutional right to privacy. The petition for rehearing generated a plethora of concurring and dissenting opinions, including an opinion by the appellate court concurring in the denial that referred to the background check as a “free-floating, wide-ranging inquiry with no standards, limits, or guarantee of non-disclosure to third parties.” Three opinions dissenting from the rehearing en banc are available here, here, and here. The JPL employees have also created a website voicing their opposition to the background checks.
Court Dismisses Eavesdropping Lawsuits
Wired reported on Wednesday’s decision by a judge for the Northern District of California to dismiss more than three dozen lawsuits aimed at telecommunication companies for assisting in a Bush administration eavesdropping program. The judge ruled that the companies were entitled to immunity based on legislation passed over the summer, which purports to immunize the telecommunications firms from liability. The Electronic Frontier Foundation plans to appeal the decision.