A disagreement over a toy that lets kids pretend they’re Spider-Man is the impetus for one of two patent cases the Supreme Court is considering this year.
The subject matter in Kimble v. Marvel Enterprises is lighthearted enough that one has to imagine some kind of mild joke will be made from the bench. But while the lawsuit doesn’t have the weight of the patent cases that were considered by the high court last year, it’s no small matter. The question of how far a patent license can last will affect all patent defendants, including the tech companies that face a steady drumbeat of lawsuits from patent trolls.
A lucrative toy
Stephen Kimble invented a toy “for shooting string foam” in 1990, and he patented it as US Patent No. 5,072,856. The device envisaged is a glove that shoots foam from the palm “to create a spider-like web for amusement purposes.”
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