Newly sworn-in U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor already has plenty of reading ahead of her: Dennis Crouch at the Patently-O blog on Monday posted 43 amicus briefs already filed in the advance of next term's oral arguments in Bilski v. Doll -- the case that will determine the standard for "business method" patents. And Crouch has provided a capsule summary of each of them.
In June, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Bernard Bilski's appeal of the Federal Circuit ruling that established a controversial "machine or transformation" test for business method patents. (Bilski's application for a patent on a method to hedge risk in commodities trading was rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which is represented at the Supreme Court by the U.S. Solicitor General.) Bilski, of course, wants the Court to adopt a more expansive test for business method patents. All of the amicus briefs at Patently-O support Bilski (or support neither side); the government's reply brief is due September 27 and briefs in support of its position are due seven days later.
The firms representing amicus filers represent a wide swath of the Am Law 200, including: Baker Botts for Novartis; Dewey & LeBouef for Medtronic; Howrey for the American Intellectual Property Law Association; Hogan & Hartson for IBM; Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson and Chadbourne & Parke for Regulatory Data Corp.; Dilworth Paxson for Teles AG; Mayer Brown for the Business Software Alliance; Jenner & Block for the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America; and Crowell & Moring for the Federal Circuit Bar Association.
Fenwick & West has submitted two separate briefs that support neither Bilski nor the government, one for Time Systems Inc. and another for Monogram Biosciences, Inc. and Genomic Health, Inc.
Beyond ideology, there's a good reason for all of these amicus filings: They're smart business. After all, Bilski's Supreme Court counsel -- Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner -- was tapped because the firm penned an amicus brief on behalf of consulting and outsourcing firm Accenture when the Bilski case was at the Federal Circuit. Lead partner J. Michael Jakes told the Litigation Daily in June that his clients "liked what we did in the Accenture amicus brief, and so they were just looking for someone to carry them forward, and so we got the job." (The Webb Law Firm in Pittsburgh lost the case at the Federal Circuit.)
Accenture has weighed in as an amicus at the Supreme Court as well, but this time its counsel is Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione.
This article first appeared on The Am Law Daily blog on AmericanLawyer.com.