Justia Arbitration & Mediation Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Patents
ROHM Semiconductor USA, LLC v. MaxPower Semiconductor, Inc.
In 2007, ROHM Japan and MaxPower entered into a technology license agreement (TLA). ROHM Japan was permitted “to use certain power [metal oxide semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFET)]-related technologies of” MaxPower (Licensor) developed under a Development and Stock Purchase Agreement in exchange for royalties paid to MaxPower. The TLA, as amended in 2011, includes an agreement to arbitrate “[a]ny dispute, controversy, or claim arising out of or in relation to this Agreement or at law, or the breach, termination, or validity thereof.” Arbitration is to be conducted “in accordance with the provisions of the California Code of Civil Procedure.”In 2019, a dispute arose between ROHM Japan and MaxPower concerning whether the TLA covers ROHM’s silicon carbide MOSFET products. MaxPower notified ROHM Japan of its intent to initiate arbitration. Shortly thereafter, ROHM's subsidiary, ROHM USA, sought a declaratory judgment of noninfringement of four MaxPower patents in the Northern District of California and four inter partes review petitions. The district court granted MaxPower’s motion to compel arbitration and dismissed the case without prejudice, reasoning that the TLA “unmistakably delegate[s] the question of arbitrability to the arbitrator.” The Federal Circuit affirmed. In contracts between sophisticated parties, incorporation of rules with a provision on the subject is normally sufficient “clear and unmistakable” evidence of the parties’ intent to delegate arbitrability to an arbitrator. View "ROHM Semiconductor USA, LLC v. MaxPower Semiconductor, Inc." on Justia Law
CEATS, Inc. v. Cont’l Airlines, Inc.
CEATS filed a patent infringement suit against airlines and ticket agencies. After the parties failed to reach a settlement during court ordered mediation, a jury found that CEATS’s patents were infringed, but invalid. The Federal Circuit affirmed the finding of invalidity. While its first appeal was pending, CEATS filed sought relief from the judgment under FRCP 60(b) based on an alleged relationship between the court-appointed mediator and the law firm representing most of the accused infringers. The alleged relationship was brought to light in the unrelated Karlseng litigation. The district court denied CEATS’s Rule 60(b) motion. The Federal Circuit affirmed, stating that it disagreed with the district court’s finding that the mediator had no duty to disclose his dealings with one of the firms involved in the litigation, but that the three “Liljeberg factors” did not establish that this case presents an “extraordinary circumstance” where relief from judgment is warrantedView "CEATS, Inc. v. Cont'l Airlines, Inc." on Justia Law
InterDigital Commc’ns, LLC v. Int’l Trade Comm’n
In 2006 InterDigital granted LG a license to certain patents concerning devices capable of wireless voice or data communications, including devices designed to operate in accordance with second-generation (2G) wireless standards and devices designed to operate in accordance with third-generation (3G) wireless standards. After the contract terminated, InterDigital filed a complaint with the International Trade Commission, claiming violation of the Tariff Act, 19 U.S.C. 1337, by importing devices that infringed patents relating to 3G wireless technology. The ITC terminated the investigation as to LG, based on an arbitration clause in the contract. The Federal Circuit reversed, holding that there was no plausible argument that the case arose from the patent license contract between the companies. View "InterDigital Commc'ns, LLC v. Int'l Trade Comm'n" on Justia Law
Sanofi-Aventis Deutschland, GMBH v. Genentech, Inc.
In 1985, Behringwerke filed a U.S. patent application directed to the use of DNA sequences (enhancers) identified in human cytomegalovirus. An enhancer, when introduced into a cell that produces a drug, can enable the cell to produce the drug at a much higher rate. In 1992, Behringwerke and Genentech entered into a licensing agreement related to enhancers that matured into the patents-in-suit; for fixed annual payments, Genentech could practice the patents for research purposes. Genentech was to pay a royalty on sales of commercially marketable goods incorporating a “Licensed Product.” The Agreement, governed by German law, required that disputes be settled by arbitration. Behringwerke sold its pharmaceutical business to Sanofi, but the Agreement and patent rights stayed with Hoechst; both are German entities. In 2008, Sanofi sued Genentech for infringement based on sales of the allegedly infringing drugs Rituxan and Avastin, which Genentech had not identified as licensed products. Hoechst demanded arbitration before a European arbitrator. The district court found no infringement. The Federal Circuit affirmed. Arbitration continued. On remand, Genentech sought to enjoin Sanofi from continuing the foreign arbitration. The district court denied the motion, finding that Hoechst is a party to the arbitration, but not a party to the litigation and that an injunction would frustrate policies favoring enforcement of forum selection clauses, and would not be in the interest of international comity. The arbitrator determined that German substantive law, not U.S. patent law, would be used, that a drug could be a licensed article even though it did not contain the patented enhancers, if those enhancers were used in its manufacture, and that Genentech was liable for damages. The Federal Circuit affirmed that Genentech was not entitled to an injunction. View "Sanofi-Aventis Deutschland, GMBH v. Genentech, Inc." on Justia Law
Promega Corp. v. Life Tech. Corp.
In 1996, RG, exclusive licensee of a German patent and corresponding patents in the U.S., Europe, and Japan relating to genetic identification, entered into a license agreement with Promega, granting Promega certain licenses. The agreement included a clause, providing that “all controversies or disputes arising out of or relating to this Agreement, or relating to the breach thereof, shall be resolved by arbitration” and prohibited assignment without consent. Assignments were approved in 2001 and 2003; a subsequent assignment from IP to LT was not approved. In 2008 LT believed that Promega was paying less than required royalties. Negotiations failed and LT demanded arbitration. Promega sought a declaratory judgment of non-arbitrability, alleging infringement of five patents and contenting that rights under the 1996 agreement had never been assigned to LT. IP then moved to compel arbitration. The district court ordered arbitration, finding that IP was the assignee, remained in existence, and that it was irrelevant that Promega alleged that IP was merely a puppet of LT. The Federal Circuit affirmed.View "Promega Corp. v. Life Tech. Corp." on Justia Law
Affymax, Inc. v. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
In 1992 two companies began a joint venture to develop peptide compounds. The agreement provides that inventions created by joint efforts are jointly owned, but inventions attributable to a single party are owned by that party and that disputes will be arbitrated. In court-ordered arbitration, a panel decided that a certain group of patents are jointly owned, but that another group is owned by defendant. The district court confirmed those rulings, but vacated a ruling in defendant's favor on foreign patents. Holding that appeal is authorized by 9 U.S.C. 16(a)(1)(E), and that the dispute does not concern patent law, but is a contract issue, the Seventh Circuit reversed. The Federal Arbitration Act authorizes a court to vacate an award for any of four reasons, 9 U.S.C. 10(a); a conclusion that the arbitrators disregarded the law by failing to discuss the foreign patents separately from the domestic patents did not justify vacating the award. The judge mistakenly inferred from silence that the arbitrators must have had an extra-contractual ground; the arbitrators had no reason to discuss the foreign patents separately from the domestic patents. View "Affymax, Inc. v. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc." on Justia Law
Nokia Corp. v. Interdigital Communications, Inc., et al.
Appellants appealed from an order of the district court denying its motion, made after a preliminary injunction was vacated by the court, to recover damages against an injunction bond posted by appellee. At issue was whether the district court correctly concluded that the damages sought were not proximately caused by the injunction, and that, in deciding this issue, the district court should have applied a presumption in favor of recovery against the bond. The court held that a wrongfully enjoined party was entitled to a presumption in favor of recovery against an injunction bond and that the district court's decision was insufficient to permit meaningful appellate review. Accordingly, the court vacated the order and remanded for reconsideration and clarification.