Some light reading late on Wednesday… the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum.
That is Royal Dutch Shell, whom the court ultimately found for in a strong 9-0 decision (while split on the reasoning). It’s quite a case. Read more
The Supreme Court has upheld a $290m verdict against Microsoft, finding it had infringed a Canadian company’s patent, says Reuters. The case was a lightning rod for the issue of whether rich companies were being held hostage by opportunistic “patent trolls”, according to the FT. Microsoft had argued that the level of proof usually required to overturn a patent in the US was too high, but judges affirmed that ‘clear and convincing’ standards of evidence should continue to hold sway. The patent fight is not yet over as Microsoft has challenges pending at the patent office.
Microsoft has lost a high-profile appeal to the US Supreme Court that will force it to pay $290m in damages and could tilt the balance in other patent cases against deep-pocketed defendants, the FT reports. The country’s top court upheld lower court decisions that Microsoft’s widely used Word software had contravened a patent held by I4i, a small Canadian software company. The case had become a lightning rod for the debate over whether big companies were being held hostage by so-called ‘patent trolls’, accused of using a lax patent system to extract large payments. Microsoft said it would continue to advocate for changes to laws regarding patents.
Jonathan Macey, a law professor at Yale University, has an op-ed in Tuesday’s WSJ arguing that the SEC’s definition of insider trading is too strict and at odds with Supreme Court precedent. (Hat tip Stacy Marie-Ishmael.)
Using the ongoing Galleon case as an example, Macey says there is an important distinction between Raj Rajaratnam allegedly bribing Rajiv Goel for tips on Clearwire and other allegations that “accuse Mr. Rajaratnam of simply talking to people and then trading”. Read more
Walmart is to defend itself at the Supreme Court in the world’s largest sex discrimination case, which has the potential to transform the future course of legal disputes between big business and workers in the US, reports the FT. The court on Tuesday will hear arguments on whether the case can go forward as a class-action lawsuit. Walmart argues that the class action brings together claimants who have too little in common to be included in a single suit, Reuters reports. Court precedent is on Walmart’s side. While the Supreme Court could affirm the class action and allow it to proceed to the merits, little short of a truly ‘seismic’ compensation ruling threatens Walmart’s finances, Reuters adds.
The US Supreme Court on Thursday put strict new limits on prosecutors’ ability to charge white collar criminals in a decision that touches on two of the most high-profile corporate crime cases in recent history, the FT reports. The court said the cases of both Conrad Black, former publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times, and Jeffrey Skilling, the former chief executive of Enron, could be reviewed by US appeals courts. The ruling significantly narrows the scope of the ‘honest services’ law defending against fraud, the NYT says