The Supreme Court has upheld new government procedures for challenging patents, The Wall Street Journal reports. The upheld ruling is a big win for companies like Apple, which are constantly bombarded by patent lawsuits. The 2011 law in question put in place a quicker and cheaper process for challenging patents, placing the decision-making power in the hands of the patent office instead of a federal judge. Opponents of the law argued that the new process was too friendly to patent challengers and made patents too vulnerable to being overturned.
The Supreme Court admitted that the patent office’s rules are a departure from those used in a court of law, but found them reasonable for the purpose they serve. Writing for the court, Justice Stephen Breyer said the approach “helps to protect the public” from claiming overly broad patents that “might discourage the use of the invention by a member of the public.” The ruling is of particular interest to Apple, which is routinely sued over its use of everything from specific electronic components to underlying technological discoveries.