Federal patent malpractice cases bounced


Paul Sutton

On February 20, 2013, the US Supreme Court surprised many members of the US bar by holding in the decision of Gunn v Minton that federal courts do not have exclusive subject matter jurisdiction over claims asserting patent malpractice.

This decision was especially surprising in that it was unanimous. It held that, except in rare instances where a substantial federal interest is at stake, such claims do not arise under the US patent laws.

The effects of this decision will throw into turmoil any number of pending patent malpractice litigations that were brought in federal courts in good faith, based upon long-established judicial precedent. Until Gunn, attorneys for malpractice plaintiffs have relied upon federal circuit decisions holding that such cases with substantive patent law questions belong in federal courts.

The following hypothetical situation simulates real world situations existing today, where nightmare scenarios resulting from the Gunn decision will be faced by patent malpractice plaintiffs who will be left in a state of legal limbo, without recourse to pursue their claims.

malpractice, patent cases, Gunn v Minton, US Supreme Court