FACTBOX – Business cases before US Supreme Court

October 5, 2009

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen in Washington, September 29, 2009. REUTERS/Jim Young   (UNITED STATES POLITICS CRIME LAW)The U.S. Supreme Court opened its term on Monday, with new Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Following are some of the important cases business cases that will be decided:

* Whether the long-standing limits on corporate spending in U.S. political campaigns violated the free-speech rights of businesses.
The case stemmed from a conservative advocacy group’s challenge to a federal campaign finance law as part of its effort to broadcast and promote a movie critical of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her presidential campaign.
The court heard arguments in the case at a special sitting last month, and a ruling is expected by the end of the year.

* A closely watched patent case, important to the business community, that could tell high-tech and software companies how far they can go in patenting software, financial strategies and other abstract processes. The case has implications for any company that hopes to patent a business method.

* A constitutional challenge to the 2002 law that created a national board to oversee U.S. public company auditors. The justices will decide a key provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which set up the private sector Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.
Those challenging the law argued it violated constitutional requirements on separation of powers because it failed to allow adequate control of the board by the U.S. president.

* Whether a shareholder who claims that a mutual fund’s investment adviser charged an excessive fee must also show that the adviser misled the fund’s directors who approved the fee.
The case has been watched closely by the nation’s mutual fund industry as a number of lawsuits have been brought across the country against companies over mutual fund fees.

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