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November 17, 2020 | By S&H
Posted in: S&H IP Blog | U.S. Supreme Court

Honoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg: An Intellectual Property Rights Champion

            As the nation continues to mourn the loss of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, we would like to recognize Justice Ginburg”™s dedication to preserving intellectual property rights.

            In Golan v. Holder, Justice Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion holding that Congress did not exceed its authority in passing a statute that extended copyright protection to previously unprotected works. Ginsburg also opined Eldred v. Ashcroft, in which the Court allowed the extension duration of certain existing copyrights. In light of the upcoming case Google v. Oracle, legal experts speculated that Ginsburg would remain in favor of copyright protection. The Court lost a strong pro-copyright advocate in Ginsburg, but her legacy may continue to serve as a guiding voice for the Court.

            Justice Ginsburg has listened to oral arguments for over 50 patent cases during her time on the bench. The most recent case she authored was Thryv, Inc. v. Click-To-Call Techs., LP, in which she wrote that a PTAB decision to institute an inter partes review proceeding based on an allegation that the petition was time-barred could not be appealed. In another notable decision, Nautilus v. Biosig Instruments, Ginsburg announced the Court”™s new standard for indefiniteness for patents.

            Although famous for her dissents, Ginsburg authored few dissents in patent cases. In Impression Products v. Lexmark, she dissented in part, stating that foreign sales should not exhaust a U.S. inventor”™s patent rights. In SAS Institute v. Iancu from 2018, she disagreed with the Court”™s finding that the PTAB must decide the patentability of all claims in an inter partes review, stating that it precluded a rational way to weed out insubstantial challenges.

            Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg accomplished many groundbreaking feats in her career””most notably for her work in gender equality. Her work in intellectual property rights will also be celebrated. Her daughter, Jane, continues her legacy in this field as an intellectual property professor at Columbia Law School, where Justice Ginsburg served as the first female tenured professor before her time on the bench.

            Staas & Halsey LLP offers its condolences to the family of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, her colleagues throughout the Judiciary, and all who knew and loved her.



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