Court business
By Roger Parloff

(FORTUNE Magazine) – The business cases on the Supreme Court's docket for the fall term have been crowded out of public view by blockbusters concerning assisted suicide, abortion, military recruitment on campuses, and the question of whether former Playmate-of-the-Year Anna Nicole Smith should receive $475 million or zilch from the estate of her late husband. But a few bear watching:

âóèIn one of three antitrust suits being heard, the Court will decide if tying the sale of a patented product to an unpatented one is illegal per se.

âóèMerrill Lynch is asking the Court to rule that investors' state-law fraud claims are preempted by federal securities laws, which afford narrower, stingier remedies.

âóèAnd the Court will decide whether Ohio's tax-credits scheme, which enticed DaimlerChrysler to build a plant in that state, violate the Commerce clause. Dell, which has built a North Carolina plant relying upon similar incentives, will watch with great interest.

Under new Chief Justice John Roberts, who represented corporate defendants while in private practice, business lawyers expect the Court to become more active in resolving disagreements among the federal appeals courts over recurring business disputes. Says Greg Coleman, head of appellate litigation for Weil Gotshal & Manges: "I think we'll see a turn for the better in the number of business cases the court is willing to take." -- Roger Parloff