Justice Kagan weaves web of puns in Spider-Man patent case

spiderman supreme court
Justice Kagan added many references to the web-slinger for a Supreme Court case on Monday.

With great patent cases, come great Supreme Court puns.

On Monday, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of Marvel Entertainment against Stephen Kimble in a case that dealt with patent fees.

However, what really stood out was the opinion of the court written by Justice Elena Kagan, who included several references to everyone's favorite web-slinger, Spider-Man.

"[I]n this world, with great power there must also come—great responsibility," Kagan wrote in the court's opinion, which also referenced Spider-Man's creators, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

The line is a reference to the wise words of Uncle Ben which were bestowed upon Peter Parker, the alter ego of the Marvel hero.

"The parties set no end date for royalties, apparently contemplating that they would continue for as long as kids want to imitate Spider-Man (by doing whatever a spider can)," Kagan wrote mentioning the iconic lyrics of Spidey's TV theme song.

The 18-page decision also included a couple of other comic book references, such as that patents give their holders "certain superpowers" but only for a limited time and that there is a "web" of precedents involving the case.

Kimbel v. Marvel Entertainment focused on whether Kimble could continue to receive royalties from Marvel for a Spider-Man toy that shot string out of a glove (like Spidey's famed web-shooters).

Using the precedent of a prior case, the court ruled, 6-3 that the company did not have to pay Kimble past his expired patent.

The case was a complex one, but it was ultimately Kagan's opinion that helped weave through the tangled web of the argument.


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