ArrivalStar S.A. v. Geo-Comm, Inc., No. 11 C 5016, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jul. 27, 2011) (Shadur, Sen. J.).
Judge Shadur sua sponte challenged the sufficiency of plaintiff ArrivalStar’s venue allegations. Venue is proper in patent cares: 1) where the defendant resides; or 2) where the defendant allegedly committed the accused acts and had a regular place of business. Geo-Comm resided in Minnesota. So, only the second option was possible. ArrivalStar did plead that Geo-Comm sold accused products in the district. But ArrivalStar failed to plead that Geo-Comm had a regular and established place of business in the district. Instead of requiring immediate repleading or briefing, the Court set a status conference to discuss the issue.

Continue Reading Venue Questioned Sua Sponte

Dental Arts Lab. V. Studio 360, The Dental Lab, LLC, No. 10 CV 4535, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Nov. 23, 2010) (Dow, J.).
Judge Dow denied defendant’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b) motion to dismiss this Lanham Act dispute regarding plaintiff’s 360 Dental Laboratories mark. Defendant was a Nevada entity which had sold product to sixteen Illinois dentists, making up 1.2% of defendant’s gross revenue, and maintained a website that used the mark and offered defendant’s products for sale. Plaintiff only argued that the Court had specific, not general jurisdiction. While defendant’s contacts were minimal – sixteen customers and 1.2% of revenues – they involved the alleged tortious acts at issue. The sales, therefore, were sufficient minimum contacts to create specific jurisdiction. Although the Illinois sales were allegedly de minimus, each sale was allegedly a tortious act and the Court could have had jurisdiction based upon even one of the sales. Because defendant’s venue arguments mirrored its jurisdiction arguments, venue was also proper.

Continue Reading Sales to Sixteen Illinois Dentists Creates Jurisdiction

Trading Techs., Intl., Inc. v. BGC Partners, Inc., No. 10 C 715, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 17, 2010) (Kendall, J.).
Judge Kendall denied defendant BGC Partners’ (“BGC”) motion to dismiss as moot because of plaintiff Trading Technologies’ (“TT’s”) subsequently filed amended complaint. Courts routinely deny without prejudice motions to dismiss when an amended complaint is filed, but this case was unique because TT opposed dismissal. TT argued that BGC’s improper service argument should be dismissed with prejudice and the remaining arguments should be heard to avoid delay because TT continued asserting similar claims in the amended complaint. The service arguments were, however, moot because BGC did not make the service arguments in response to the amended complaint.
The Court also denied the motion to dismiss without prejudice as to the remaining arguments. While the claims may have remained factually similar, BGC’s arguments went to jurisdiction, not the sufficiency of the facts. Furthermore, the amended complaint added several new defendants. BGC and the other defendants would have been prejudiced if they were not given the opportunity to review the amended complaint and to collectively decide how to address any jurisdiction or venue issues.

Continue Reading Motion to Dismiss Denied as Moot Over Plaintiff’s Objection

The Ticketreserve, Inc. v. Viagogo, Inc., No. 08 C 502, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 11, 2009) (Kendall, J.).
Judge Kendall denied defendants’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(3) motion in limine for improper venue and granted defendant Viagogo, Inc.’s (“Viagogo”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(2) motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Defendants agreed that venue was improper based on an arbitration clause in a nondisclosure agreement the parties requested when they explored a joint venture. Defendants agreed that the patented technology was disclosed pursuant to the nondisclosure agreement.
But because plaintiff’s international patent on the same technology as the U.S. patent, issued before the nondisclosure agreement the patent infringement claim was expressly excluded from the nondisclosure agreement and its arbitration claims.
The Court then dismissed Viagogo for lack of personal jurisdiction. Viagogo had no contract with Illinois to create personal jurisdiction. And while the interactive website likely created specific jurisdiction for its owner, the evidence suggested that Viagogo Ltd., which did not contest personal jurisdiction owned and operated the website, not Viagogo, Inc.

Continue Reading Nondisclosure Arbitration Clause Does Not Include Patent Infringement Claims

As promised, the new Patent Reform Acts were introduced in Congress this week — click here for the Senate bill and here for the House bill. While I have not yet done a comprehensive review, I understand that the bills are largely similar. Here are some highlights of the bills:
They move from the current first to invent system to the international norm, first to file.
Expanded reexamination and a new period of post-grant review.
Damages provisions require that the specific contribution over the prior art be considered and allow consideration of licensing terms for similar noninfringing substitutes. As Dennis Crouch points out, for alternatives in the public domain the comparable license could be free.
Specifically allows for Federal Circuit jurisdiction of interlocutory claim construction appeals where the district court approves the appeal.
Federal Circuit judges would no longer be required to live within fifty miles of the District of Columbia.
The venue provisions are changed to narrow possible venues.
There is plenty of commentary in the blogosphere. Here are some of the best:
271 Patent Blog (giving highlights, noting changes from the last version and do not miss Peter Zura’s blog makeover);
Patent Docs (discussing the Senate press conference announcing the Senate bill and noting BIO’s response to the bills); and
Patently-O (giving highlights and noting changes from the most recent attempted reforms) and here (reposting comments from Google’s Head of Patents and Patent Strategy, Michelle Lee).

Continue Reading Patent Reform Act of 2009

ACCO Brands USA LLC v. PC Guardian Anti-Theft Prods., Inc., No 06 C 7102, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Dec. 10, 2008) (Zagel, J.).*
Judge Zagel denied defendant PC Guardian’s (“PCG”) renewed motion to transfer plaintiff’s patent suit against PCG, but not necessarily the other defendants, to the Northern District of California, where plaintiff and PCG were litigating a related patent. The Court previously denied this motion, reasoning that all issues related to the patents in suit should be tried in one court, as opposed to the Northern District of California resolving the case as to PCG and the Northern District of Illinois to resolve the issues as to the other defendants in this suit.
PCG renewed its motion because its new Northern District of California inequitable conduct motion implicated both the patents in suit in the Northern District of California and those at issue in the Northern District of Illinois. But the Court held that transfer of the case would still leave this Court to resolve the identical issues as to the remaining defendants. Additionally, because the Northern District of California court would likely rule on the issues before this Court, this Court would have the opportunity to consider the California rulings before deciding the issues. And this Court had already construed the claims in this case (click here), resulting in only two minor differences between the courts.
* Click here for more on this case in the Blog’s archives.

Continue Reading Overlapping Issues & Earlier Trial Date Do Not Warrant Transfer

Helferich Patent Licensing v. ASUStek Computer Inc., No. 08 C 5189, Min. Order (N.D. Ill. Sep. 22, 2008) (Castillo, J.)
Judge Castillo sua sponte dismissed without prejudice plaintiff’s patent infringement complaint. The Court held that defendants were foreign entities without business entities in the Northern District. The Court allowed plaintiff to proceed with expedited jurisdictional discovery, and gave plaintiff until December 15 to refile an amended complaint, if they could, with more facts supporting jurisdiction and venue. The Court did not cite the Supreme Court’s Twombly decision regarding Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 pleading standards in its brief opinion. But this decision could flow from Twombly’s plausibility pleading standards.

Continue Reading Court Dismisses Case Sua Sponte for Lack of Jurisdictional Facts

Moran Indus., Inc. v. Higdon, No. 07 C 6092, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill., Jul. 26, 2008) (Guzman, J.).
Judge Guzman held that the Court had personal jurisdiction over the defendants, but dismissed plaintiff’s trademark and breach of contract case for improper venue. Defendants, various franchisees of plaintiff, were all residents of and operated their franchises in various combinations of Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Each relevant franchise agreement had a forum selection clause consenting to jurisdiction in the Northern District. But the Court held that the clause was permissive, allowing defendants to challenge personal jurisdiction. While defendants were not Illinois residents, their numerous contacts with plaintiff — sending plaintiff royalty payments and reports to Illinois and attending training in Illinois, among others — created personal jurisdiction.
While defendants were subject to personal jurisdiction in Illinois, the Court held that the Northern District was not the proper venue. A substantial part of the harm alleged occurred not in Illinois, but in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Those were the states where defendants allegedly failed to make payments, not Illinois. The Courts, therefore, dismissed the case.

Continue Reading Court has Personal Jurisdiction, but Venue is Improper

U.S. Gypsum Co. v. 3M Innovative Props. Co., No. 07 C 6381, 2008 WL 514976 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 20, 2008) (Darrah, J.).
Judge Darrah granted defendants’ (collectively “3M”) Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(3) motion to dismiss for lack of venue. Plaintiff United States Gypsum (“Gypsum”) filed this action asserting its own patent and seeking declaratory judgments regarding 3M’s patents, all to low dust construction compounds. Shortly thereafter, 3M filed a corresponding suit in the District of Minnesota. Prior to filing their suits, the parties were in extended negotiations regarding cross-licensing of their patents. Pursuant to those negotiations, the parties entered a confidentiality agreement (“Agreement”) requiring that all disputes “arising from the subject matter of this Agreement shall be brought . . . exclusively in [D. Minn.]” Because the express subject matter of the Agreement was the patents in suit and because the Agreement, negotiated by sophisticated parties, set D. Minn. as the exclusive jurisdiction, the Court dismissed the case in favor of 3M’s action filed in the D. Minn.

Continue Reading Forum Selection Clause Destroys Venue

The Patent Reform Act is on the Senate’s calendar and is expected to be voted on in February. The version voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee is different than the version passed by the House. Experts expect that, instead of forming a joint committee to resolve the differences which generally requires a second vote by both chambers, the House will vote on any version of the Patent Reform Act passed by the Senate.
That means that it is time to take a close look at the Senate version of the Patent Reform Act. The damages and venue provisions continue to be some of the most significant and hotly-contested. And it is no surprise that the various stakeholders are making their positions heard loudly again. I considered analyzing each provision of the current Senate bill, but Patent Docs beat me to it and did an excellent job:
First to file
Several other blogs are also keeping a close eye on the stakeholders and the sausage-making aspects of the Patent Reform Act, among the best:
271 Patent Blog
IP Biz
Patent Barristers
Maryland IP Law Blog (and here regarding the increased internet coverage of Patent Reform during February)

Continue Reading Patent Reform: It’s Baaaaaaaaack!