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News & Events


High Court Has Second Chance To Hear Patent Malpractice Issue

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Lane Powell Shareholder Paul Swanson was quoted in a June 5 Law 360 article titled “High Court Has Second Chance to Hear Patent Malpractice Issue.” The article discusses how the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case that involved Memorylink Corp.’s argument that the Federal Circuit had overreached when it affirmed a district court’s dismissal of its state law patent malpractice claims against Motorola Inc.’s in-house attorneys. However, the article discusses a similar case, Gunn v. Minton, in which the Texas Supreme Court ruled in December that federal court was the proper venue for an inventor’s suit claiming Williams Squire & Wren LLP and other firms negligently represented him in litigation over his securities trading network patent. Swanson comments on the issue of exclusive federal court jurisdiction over patent malpractice cases.

Attorneys noted that Motorola had declined to respond to Memorylink’s petition and that the high court did not request a response. The respondent in the Texas case also declined to respond, but the Supreme Court has asked for a response to be filed by June 13, possibly signaling the court’s interest in the case. Regardless of whether the high court takes it up, the question of jurisdiction for patent malpractice cases is an intriguing one, said Paul Swanson of Lane Powell PC. “It generally ends up devolving into a political litmus test on your view of federal versus state court jurisdiction, which is a sensitive issue for all courts,” he said. …

Malpractice cases in Texas should not be subject to precedent developed by the federal courts “largely uninformed by the deep roots of Texas jurisprudence and the requirements of the Texas Constitution,” the dissent argued. Swanson said that the dissent made an eloquent case for the idea that federal courts should not have jurisdiction over state law malpractice claims, which could be persuasive to the U.S. Supreme Court if it takes the case. Nevertheless, Swanson said that he believes patent malpractice cases should be kept in federal court “when there’s no getting around an extensive analysis of the patent.”

Read the article (PDF).