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Re: digest 245

I've been reviewing the Court decision on this and related issues since 3
decisions were issued simultaneously last month.  If the decision holds
(and it seems to be a trend for the current Court), it has at least 4
ramifications for state universities:

1.  The decisions seem to apply to all federal laws, not just intellectual
property.  This would include labor law for example, since one of the
companion cases dealt with application of the Fair Labor Standards Act to
the State of Maine.

2.  The decisions do not exempt us from the federal laws; but they do say
that private individuals cannot sue states in federal court due to the
doctrine of sovereign immunity.  Federal agencies themselves can still
bring enforcement actions against states and state universities.

3.  Some state legislatures that consider themselves "consumer-friendly"
or "labor friendly"  have probably already waived sovereign immunity in
certain legal areas; you can expect more to do so as a result of these

4.  The decisions was issued on a 5-4 vote, split sharply along
ideological lines, with conservatives holding the balance on a
controversial point of view.  The decisions reversed decades of
constitutional interpretation on the issue of sovereign immunity for
states.  They went back to a pre-Civil War point of view.  If a Democrat
is elected President next year and has a chance to make Supreme Court
appointments, the balance could tip back the other way.

I hope this helps put the issue into some context.

Michael Rancer
Chief Administrative Officer
The Library
245 Doe Annex
University of California
Berkeley CA 94720-6000
(510) 642-4839 (voice and voicemail)
(510) 643-8179 (fax)
(510) 615-4156 (pager)
Email:  mrancer@library.berkeley.edu

At 12:01 AM 7/28/1999 EDT, Electronic Content Licensing Discussion wrote:

>  1) supreme court ruling
>	by RickersonG@umsystem.edu
>From: "Rickerson, George" <RickersonG@umsystem.edu>
>To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
>Subject: supreme court ruling
>Date: Tue, 27 Jul 1999 22:31:26 EDT
>Greetings -
>	In the August 2 issue of Business Week, on page 74, there is an
>opinion piece that discusses a recent ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court.  
>The case was Florida Prepaid Postsecondary Education Expense Board vs.
>College Savings Bank.
>	According to the piece, the state of Florida, in responding to a
>patent infringement suit by the bank, claimed that states are
>constitutionally immune from federal intellectual-property laws under the
>doctrine of sovreign immunity.  The high court agreed and ruled in favor
>of the state of Florida.
>	The column goes on to state that the ruling may mean that states,
>including all their subsidiary agencies such as universities and colleges,
>have a free pass to ignore federal intellectual-property laws and can
>freely copy copyrighted works, appropriate registered trademarks for their
>own use and violate patents without fear of suit.
>	Has anyone read the court's decision?