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Archived updates for Monday, July 14, 2008

No Patent DJ Jurisdiction Based Upon Suits of Unrelated Persons

Thanks to PatRacer for posting a copy of PanaVise v. National Products CD/CA 8-cv-1300 (May 30, 3008) in which Judge Collins dismissed a Declaratory Judgment action for patent infringement where the patent owner had merely sued others for infringement without a further communications or acts against the plaintiff:
Having reviewed the case law, it is clear that no case or controversy can exist in a patent action for declaratory relief in the absence of an act by the defendant. For example, in Sandisk, the court stated that “declaratory judgment jurisdiction generally will not arise merely on the basis that a party learns of the existence of a patent owned by another or even perceives such a patent to pose a risk of infringement, without some affirmative act by the patentee.” Sandisk, 480 F.3d at 1380-1381 (emphasis added). That is exactly the situation here: Plaintiff merely learned that Defendant owns a patent and is concerned that its own device may infringe Defendant’s patent, but Defendant has taken no affirmative act in relation to Plaintiff’s device; indeed, Defendant did not know of Plaintiff’s device and has yet to see it. Sandisk further states that “Article III jurisdiction may be met where the patentee takes a position that puts the declaratory judgment plaintiff in a position of either pursuing arguably illegal behavior or abandoning that which he claims a right to do,” id. (emphasis added), thereby reinforcing the notion that no case or controversy can exist where the defendant has taken no position. It is undisputed that Defendant has taken no position with respect to Plaintiff and/or the 811 series

That Defendant has sued other unrelated persons for infringement of the ‘420 patent does not constitute action toward this plaintiff and the 811 series device, and therefore does not contribute to the existence of a case or controversy between these parties Without Defendant even knowing about Plaintiff’s device, it is not apparent that the parties have “adverse legal interest[s]” and that the dispute is “definite and concrete.” Rather, Plaintiff is seeking what MedImmune forbids: “an opinion advising what the law would be upon a hypothetical state of facts.” MedImmune, 127 S.Ct. at 77. Indeed, the cases Plaintiff cites in support of its position all involve a defendant
communicating with the plaintiff about plaintiff’s device. Plaintiff has directed the Court to no case in which a case or controversy was found in the absence of any act by the defendant directed toward the plaintiff and/or plaintiff’s device.

The absence of any communication or conduct by Defendant towards Plaintiff about the 811 series device is dispositive of the jurisdictional question: there is no actual case or controversy upon which the Court’s subject matter jurisdiction may rest.
According the "Patent Appeal Tracer," these "allegations are similar to those in 2008-1373 Impax Labs v. Medicis Pharmaceutical, where a DJ was attempted based on the patentee's history of public threats and litigation, although not specifically or explicitly directed at the DJ plaintiff. At least to me, the case for jurisdiction seems stronger in Impax where the history of threats more readily implicate the DJ plaintiff and its product."
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April 06, 2009 11:31 PM  

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