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Jun 2015

Spider-Man Toy precedent upheld

Judgement0 Comments

In a 6-3 decision, justices decline to overrule a 50-year-old decision on patent royalties. Stephen Kimble invented a web-shooting toy and obtained a patent on the device in 1991.  He sued Marvel Enterprises in 1997, alleging the company used his ideas to create a toy named the Web Blaster without paying him. The two sides settled in 2001, agreeing on terms that included Marvel paying a running 3% royalty rate on sales of the toy.  When the patent expired, Marvel asserted that its obligations to pay would end. Lower courts agreed, as did the Supreme Court, saying  in a 6-3 decision that Kimble hadn’t presented the court with a compelling “special justification” for abandoning the principle of stare decisis, or sticking with past precedent. Kagan:

What we can decide, we can undecide. But stare decisis teaches that we should exercise that authority sparingly.

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