Landmark Patent Case Before the Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in a patent case involving online auctioneer eBay Inc. that is part of a wider patent battle which has implications for both the software and pharmaceutical industries.

Another company claims to have the patent on eBay's "Buy it now" feature, and the case has now gone all the way to the SCOTUS.

On one side you have people and companies that feel patents have become too broad and are hurting commerce and innovation; on the other, you have powerful pharmaceutical companies, who enjoy patent protection as a means of justifying research and investment.

The case is being closely watched to see if the high court will scale back the right of patent holders to get an injunction barring infringers from using their technologies.

Software companies complain they can be held for ransom by owners of questionable patents while drugmakers oppose any weakening of patent rights, which they say would chill their investment in new medicines.

Patent experts said that, depending on how the Supreme Court rules, the case could have a profound impact on the way the courts treat intellectual property in the United States.

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