eBay v. MercExchange
In this case EFF helped convince the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate a dangerous patent law precedent that threatened free speech and consumers' rights.
The court unanimously held that issuing automatic injunctions in patent cases improperly removed discretion from trial judges to weigh competing factors including the effect that enforcing the patent would have on the public interest. This follows the reasoning outlined in a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) which urged the justices to overrule the lower court and protect the public interest in free speech innovation and education.
The lower court's ruling stemmed in part from a misperception that patents are just like other forms of property with the same rights and remedies. However Supreme Court rulings have repeatedly emphasized that patents are a unique form of property designed to achieve a specific public purpose: the promotion of scientific and industrial progress. Additionally the concurrence written by Justice Anthony Kennedy and joined by Justices David Souter John Paul Stevens and Stephen Breyer noted that the current patent system may be suffering ill effects from business method patents and so-called "patent troll" companies.
"An industry has developed in which firms use patents not as a basis for producing and selling goods but instead primarily for obtaining licensing fees " Justice Kennedy wrote. "In addition injunctive relief may have different consequences for the burgeoning number of patents over business methods ? the potential vagueness and suspect validity of some of these patents may affect the calculus under the four-factor test."