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Science Under the SCOTUS Microscope This Term

By George Khoury, Esq. on October 05, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Every term, the High Court hears a handful of cases that impact the scientific community, and the natural world at large (or small).

This term is no different, particularly as nature lovers surely noticed that the first case heard this term involved endangered frogs and whether the feds could force private land to be converted into a suitable frog habitat. The SCOTUSblog argument analysis seemed to indicate the matter could go either way.

Below, you can read more about the other science-y cases getting put under the High Court microscope.

Virginia Uranium, Inc. v. Warren

This matter is all about uranium mining, or more appropriately, the lack thereof in Virginia, which the state of Virginia will not allow. However, the companies that want to mine it are seeking SCOTUS to declare that the mining of uranium is a nuclear issue, and thus under the purview of the federal government.

Apart from the endangered frogs, this is the only other matter with an argument date (Nov. 5).

Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. v. Albrecht

The Merck case will be highly watched by big pharma. The matter involves whether a drug maker can be held liable for a warning it wanted to give, but was rejected by the FDA, and whether a jury should be able to consider evidence about why the FDA rejected the warning.

Helsinn Healthcare S.A. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc.

The Helsinn v. Teva matter is another case that can have a significant impact on the scientific community. The case asks a specific question that inventors will want to understand, particularly if confidentiality is critical. Whether a confidential sale of an invention can still qualify as a prior art in terms of that invention's patentability.

While this term may not have many blockbuster science cases, there's always the possibility of new petitions being granted.

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