Roundup: Supreme Court’s new patent ruling, gas prices at record, multiple services give up the ghost, and more

Supreme Court gives supply chains protection from patents — In a notable ruling today, the Supreme Court has ruled that patent holders can’t demand royalties from supply chain customers who bought products from license-holders further up the chain. The decision should help reduce “patent exhaustion” in the system, not to mention the overall level of silliness.

Gas hits record $4 average, but cleantech may not always benefit — Average gas prices across the country have reached the psychological milestone of $4 per gallon, which might seem like a powerful growth signal for cleantech. Unfortunately, the world is not always so simple. High gas prices have contributed to pushing biodiesel to $6 per gallon, causing more pain to Seattle-area startup Imperium Biodiesel, as Earth2Tech reports. Other, equally unpredictable ripple-out effects are likely.

Microsoft gives up on classified ad siteWindows Live Expo, a classified ad posting site, will close on July 31. Perhaps not surprising, given the site’s rushed release and built-in stumbling blocks for users; but Expo’s failure to chip into the daunting lead held by Craigslist should also serve as a warning to eBay, Wal-Mart and others, who have started their own, similar sites.

Monster falls flat in social networking, closing Tickle — Job search site Monster.com is pulling out of the niche social networking market, letting go of a site it acquired in 2004. The network, Tickle, will close at the end of this month.

SanDisk shuts down TakeTV / Fanfare — An effort to break into the set-top box market, competing with the Apple TV, has been abandoned a mere half year after its start by memory maker SanDisk. The low-cost TakeTV was supposed to appeal to the lower-end market, but may have proved too clunky for less computer-savvy users. Meanwhile, the bargain-priced Netflix Roku has emerged, and looks like a much stronger offering.

Kaiser backs Microsoft’s HealthVault — The nation’s largest non-profit health group, Kaiser Permanente, is throwing its weight behind Microsoft’s patient data service, HealthVault, a service that we gave a tepid review to last year. Although Kaiser is starting with only a test group comprised of its 156,000 employees, it could eventually give a big boost to Health Vault, which competes with recently-launched Google Health.

Conway bets big on stealthy ex-felon — Famed investor Ron Conway has not only invested in Foomojo, the new stealth online gaming startup of convicted felon Ron Hornbaker, but listed it off to peHUB as one of the companies he’s most excited about. We wouldn’t bet against him — Hornbaker is also the founder of Alexaholic, a stats site famed for outdoing Alexa using the its own data (now called Statsaholic, and the target of a sour-grapes lawsuit from Alexa owner Amazon).