Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Reporter Reporting

I don't know what's with the trades these days.  Variety online often comes across as if it has no editing, but now we get this oddity from the more reliable Hollywood Reporter regarding a closely-watched (in this town, anyway) case on patent law:

In today's ruling, Justice Elena Kagan says that the old precedent must stand untouched under what's known as stare decisis.

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

In her analysis, Kagan says that very strong justification is needed to depart from stare decisis and allow inventors to make deals that provide them royalties past a patent's expiration.

The piece, by Eriq Gardner, uses the phrase "stare decisis" three times in three sentences without explaining it.  I would think some explanation is required, as Gardner himself feels the concept is unusual enough that he introduces it with "what's known as...."

Perhaps the reader could glean its meaning from context, but would it be too much to ask for a quick definition?  For all I know, a lot of readers might think stare decisis is something substantive, rather than Justice Kagan simply saying she's following precedent.  (And is that really what the case turned on, rather than the interpretation of precedent?  Don't know, haven't read it.)

PS  If you didn't click on the link, you may wonder why this particular illustration.  It's not about the complex web of previous cases Kagan alludes to, but rather the case itself, which is about royalties for a Spider-Man toy.


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