You might recall that the Supreme Court recently handed down a decision which loosened the definition of "obvious
" as applied to patent interpretation, saying that if a person of ordinary skill could "fit the teaching of multiple patents together like pieces of a puzzle," the patent is obvious and unenforceable. That decision, which has been called the most important patent ruling in decades, is starting to affect several longstanding patent disputes, most notably a case brought against Real Networks
in 2003 by a company called Friskit. In the first instance of a judge applying the new rule, Friskit's patents have been deemed unenforceable as obvious, a change from an earlier ruling allowing the case to go forward. Friskit is of course considering an appeal, but we wouldn't be surprised to see a lot more of these suits decided early on the basis of obviousness.