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Supreme Court to Study Technology Patents

TelecomTV reports that the recent patent showdown between NTP and Research In Motion is widely recognized as a symptom of a larger malaise. Now the US Supreme Court is set to weigh in on the intersection between patents and injunctions, balancing the rights of intellectual property holders against the ability of major businesses to continue operations.

The escalation has brought unexpected parties out of the woodwork. "Money that could go to productive investments is instead diverted to legal fees and settlement payments. The costs of these practices are less innovation or a slower rate of innovation and higher costs for consumers," wrote one consortium.

The case comes as U.S. lawmakers pressure the software industry to reconsider its patent drive. The US Patent and Trademark Office is notoriously behind the curve on technology, often subsequently overturning patents it should never have granted in the first place - as in the case of NTP vs. RIM.

A series of new bills is intended to persuade technology firms to stop the "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" approach to fattening patent portfolios, including one by Rep. Lamar Smith. The Texas Republican wants to beef up USPTO vetting processes and make it harder to win a patent injunction, although he is running into considerable resistance from the pharmaceutical sector.

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