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US Supreme Court: Patent Based Legal Malpractice Cases Belong in State Court!

Gunn v. Minton, __ 568 U.S. ___ (February 20, 2013) 

Underlying Case: Legal Malpractice based on patent law


From the Syllabus of the Decision: 

"No matter how the state courts resolve the hypothetical “case within a case,” the real-world result of the prior federal patent litigation will not change. Nor will allowing state courts to resolve these cases undermine “the development of a uniform body of [patent] law.” Bonito Boats, Inc. v. Thunder Craft Boats, Inc., 489 U. S. 141, 162. The federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over actual patent cases, and in resolving the nonhypothetical patent questions those cases present they are of course not bound by state precedents. Minton suggests that state courts’ answers to hypothetical patent questions can sometimes have real-world effect on other patents through issue preclusion, but even assuming that is true, such “fact-bound and situation-specific” effects are not sufficient to establish arising under jurisdiction, Empire HealthChoice Assurance, Inc. v. McVeigh, 547 U. S. 677, 701. Finally, the federal courts’ greater familiarity with patent law is not enough, by itself, to trigger the federal courts’ exclusive patent jurisdiction. Pp. 8–12. …

There is no reason to suppose that Congress meant to bar from state courts legal malpractice claims simply because they require resolution of a hypothetical patent issue. "

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Posted in: Case Within a Case, Federal