Tech Giants Interested in Patent Case

With patent litigation becoming a bigger issue in the technology industry, a decision Monday by the Supreme Court to hear a case on what could be considered an obvious invention -- and thus not patentable -- could hold significant repercussions.

Several tech companies have taken interest in a patent case involving KSR International and a company called Teleflex. At issue is patents surrounding gas pedal technology that were held by Teleflex. While an initial federal court ruling threw out Teleflex's patents, calling them "obvious," an appeals court overturned that decision.

KSR then appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, accusing the federal courts of interpreting the laws on "obvious" patents incorrectly. The court has far too lenient a standard for patentability, KSR argues. Supporting its case, technology giants Microsoft and Cisco have filed a joint amicus brief on KSR's behalf.

"If the test for patentability becomes too lenient and allows routine variations on prior inventions to be patented anew, the public's free use of information in the public domain is clouded by a new monopoly," the companies argued.

"Moreover, the public receives no value in the disclosure of minor variations of inventions already known and disclosed in the prior art." Both companies said they have had to take steps to protect themselves from questionable patents.

No date has been set for hearings on the matter, although the court has agreed to receive amicus briefs from several interested parties.

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