In the specialized arena of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, where patent cases now predominate, combatants over a core question of attorney-client privilege have swiftly moved into position for a rare argument before the entire appellate court.

Nearly two dozen bar, industry and association amicus briefs have been filed in the case, In re Seagate, No. 2006-830. The high number of briefs reflects the high stakes, both financial and legal, in a case with the potential to affect almost every patent infringement lawsuit filed.