Sloan Valve Co. v. Zurn Indus., Inc., No. 10 C 204, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. May 4, 2010) (St. Eve, J.).
Judge St. Eve granted in part plaintiff/counter-defendant Sloan’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12 motions in the patent infringement case involving a flush valve handle assembly. The Court dismissed defendant/counter-plaintiff’s (collectively “Zurn”) invalidity and noninfringement counterclaims to the extent they challenged patent claims other than those identified as allegedly infringed in Sloan’s complaint. The Court could have exercised jurisdiction over the counterclaims if Zurn had met the MedImmune standard independently for each of Sloan’s unasserted claims, but Zurn did not.
The Court denied Sloan’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss Zurn’s inequitable conduct counterclaim. Zurn met the materiality standard by pleading that Sloan should have known that admissions made in a prior, related reexamination proceeding were relevant to the Examiner in the later application.
The Court dismissed Zurn’s estoppel and misuse affirmative defenses. Each were pled in a single sentence and without particularized facts.
The Court also dismissed Zurn’s lack of actual notice affirmative defense. Zurn also denied Sloan’s actual notice allegation in its answer. Because actual notice was denied in the answer, it was not a proper affirmative defense. Finally, the Court dismissed Zurn’s noninfringement and exceptional case affirmative defenses. Neither was a proper affirmative defense.

Continue Reading Declaratory Judgment Claim Dismissed as to Unasserted Patent Claims

Tuthill Corp. v. ArvinMeritor, Inc., No. 07 C 2758, 2008 WL 4200888 (N.D. Ill. Sep. 5, 2008) (Gottschall, J.)
Judge Gottschall denied declaratory judgment (“DJ”) defendant ArvinMeritor’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. ArvinMeritor sent DJ plaintiff Tuthill Corp. a letter alleging that Tuthill infringed a group of patents to recreational vehicle suspension systems (the “RV patents”). Tuthill responded that its product did not infringe, that the patents were invalid, and that the accused products were not in production yet. Tuthill alleged that the parties had continuing discussions regarding the RV patents. ArvinMeritor claimed that the discussions went dormant as to the RV patents after it received Tuthill’s letter. Tuthill filed this suit after its accused products were put on the market. The Court held that regardless of whether the discussions went dormant, Tuthill’s claim met the Supreme Court’s MedImmune standard, as defined in the Federal Circuit’s SanDisk opinion. And ArvinMeritor never dissolved the controversy by providing Tuthill a covenant not to sue.

Continue Reading Dormant Infringement Accusation Creates Declaratory Jurisdiction

Geisha, LLC v. Tuccillo, No. 05 C 5529, 2007 W> 2608558 (N.D. Ill. Sep. 4, 2007) (Pallmeyer, J.).
Judge Pallmeyer held that the Court lacked jurisdiction over plaintiff Geisha’s declaratory judgment claim. Geisha operates a series of restaurants, each called Japonais – Japonais Chicago, Japonais New York and Japonais Las Vegas. Between the openings of Japonais Chicago and Japonais New York, defendant Roy Tuccillo (“Tuccillo”) filed an intent to use trademark application for a nearly identical Japonais mark, with the “firm intent” to open a restaurant using the mark. Geisha registered Japonais with the State of Illinois, but never federally registered the mark. Geisha sought, among other things, a declaratory judgment that Geisha owned the Japonais mark and that Tuccillo’s opening of a Japonais restaurant would infringe Geisha’s mark. The Court noted that the Seventh Circuit looks to patent law when considering whether there is an actual controversy in a trademark declaratory judgment action. The Court, therefore, relied upon the Supreme Court’s recent MedImmune, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., 127 S.Ct. 765 (2007), decision which required that a controversy be “real and immediate,” overturning the Federal Circuit’s reasonable apprehension of suit test. The Court held that there was no “real and immediate” controversy. While Tuccillo had filed for registration of a Japonais mark nearly identical to Geisha’s and expressed his firm intent to open a Japonais restaurant, Tuccillo’s actions did not suggest that there was “imminent danger” that he would actually open a restaurant when the suit was filed. Tuccillo testified that he had generally looked at some properties to purchase for the restaurant, but he did not remember when he had done that and could not identify specific properties. Additionally, Tuccillo purchased a Chinese restaurant in 2002, but leased the space without opening a Japonais restaurant in 2003, two years before Geisha filed this suit.

Continue Reading Unspecified Intent to Use Trademark Not Sufficient for DJ

Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 18, from 3:00 – 4:00 PM, the Chicago-Kent College of Law is hosting its fourth annual Federal Circuit Roundtable. The Roundtable, composed of former Federal Circuit law clerks, will address the topic, “MedImmune and SanDisk: Seeking a License Without Getting a Lawsuit.” The scheduled participants are:
Laura L. Donoghue, Sidley Austin;
Lisa A. Schneider, Sidley Austin;
Jonathan R. Spivey, Foley & Lardner,
Meredith Martin Addy, Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione;
Laura A. Lydigsen, Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione;
Leonard D. Conapinski, McDermott Will & Emory;
Sasha D. Mayergoyz, Latham & Watkins;
David C. McKone, Latham & Watkins;
Michael R. Weiner, Marshall, Gerstein & Borun; and
Michelle Armond, Marshall, Gerstein & Borun.
The Roundtable will be moderated by Chicago-Kent Professor Timothy R. Holbrook.
I will not be able to attend this year’s event because I am teaching an IP course at Loyola on Wednesday afternoons, but I can vouch for the program. It is an hour of excellent insight from former Federal Circuit clerks. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, my wife (Laura Donoghue) is a roundtable participant. So, I am biased, but it is still an excellent program.

Continue Reading Fourth Annual Federal Circuit Roundtable Tomorrow

Black & Decker, Inc. v. Robert Bosch Tool Corp., No. 06 C 4440, Min. Order (N.D. Ill. Jul. 13, 2007) (Manning, J.).
In the first Northern District opinion to address the Supreme Court’s MedImmune declaratory judgment standard, Judge Manning denied plaintiff Black & Decker’s (“B&D”) motion to dismiss defendant Robert Bosch Tool Corp.’s (“Bosch”) declaratory judgment counterclaims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. In a prior case between the parties before Judge St. Eve (numerous prior opinions are discussed in the Blog’s archives), B&D asserted that two models of Bosch’s Power Box radio (the “Old Power Box”) infringed B&D’s two patents (the “Old Patents”). Shortly before Judge St. Eve held trial in the previous case, B&D brought this suit against Bosch asserting that Bosch’s new model of its Power Box radio (the “New Power Box”) infringed a third patent (the “New Patent”). At about the same time, B&D sought leave to present evidence at trial before Judge St. Eve that the New Power Box infringed the Old Patents. Judge St. Eve, however, held that B&D had not disclosed the New Power Box as an accused product and that Bosch would be prejudiced by adding it immediately before trial. After the trial before Judge St. Eve, the jury returned a verdict that the Old Power Boxes willfully infringed certain claims of the Old Patents.
Shortly after Judge St. Eve excluded the New Power Box from her trial, B&D amended the complaint in this case to allege infringement of the Old Patents. In response, Bosch added declaratory judgment counterclaims regarding a third set of B&D patents (the “Smith patents”) which B&D had never asserted against Bosch. Bosch argued that an actual controversy existed because of the history of litigation between the parties and B&D’s prior testimony that it placed a high value on the exclusivity its patents provided in the workplace radio marketspace. B&D countered that, despite filing two suits against Bosch, B&D had never asserted the Smith patents against Bosch, or any other party. B&D also argued that St. Eve had already dismissed similar counterclaims in the last case for lack of actual controversy. But St. Eve’s decision was based upon the Federal Circuit’s old reasonable apprehension test, which the Supreme Court’s MedImmune decision overruled. Looking at “all of the circumstances,” as required by MedImmune, the Court held that an actual controversy existed. Among other reasons, the Court noted that the wide-ranging dispute between the parties regarding the workplace radios, suggested that it was in the parties’ best interests to resolve any dispute regarding the Smith patents.

Continue Reading Northern District’s First Post-MedImmune DJ Decision