Articles Posted in Consumer Law

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The state filed a complaint, alleging that letters mailed by MPHJ to Vermont businesses informing them that they may be infringing certain patents were deceptive and violated the Vermont Consumer Protection Act, 9 V.S.A. 2451. MPHJ is a non-practicing entity incorporated in Delaware that acts through shell corporations incorporated in many states. MPHJ removed the case twice to federal court, once under the original complaint and once under an amended complaint. The district court remanded the case to state court both times. The Federal Circuit affirmed. While 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(2), provides jurisdiction “in any civil action arising under, or in any civil action in which a party has asserted a compulsory counterclaim arising under, any Act of Congress relating to patents,” the patents at issue were transferred to MPHJ from the original patent owner; they were not directly “derived from a federal officer.” The complaint neither alleged violation of nor sought relief under the Vermont Bad Faith Assertions of Patent Infringement Act so there is no risk that the state court action can affect the validity of federal law. View "Vermont v. MPHJ Tech. Inv., LLC" on Justia Law

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MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC (MPHJ) owned several patents relating to network scanner systems. Through subsidiary licensees, MPHJ wrote to various business and non-profit organizations operating in Vermont, requesting the recipient to confirm it was not infringing MPHJ’s patents or, alternatively, to purchase a license. If there was no response, a Texas law firm sent follow-up correspondence stating that an infringement suit would be filed. The State of Vermont filed suit against MPHJ in Vermont state court alleging MPHJ engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices under the Vermont Consumer Protection Act, stating that the letters contained threatening, false, and misleading statements. MPHJ removed the case to the United States District Court for the District of Vermont, asserting federal question jurisdiction and diversity jurisdiction. The State moved to remand the case back to state court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. MPHJ opposed the State’s motion to remand, and filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and a motion for sanctions. Finding that it lacked jurisdiction to grant MPHJ its requested relief, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the petition and appeal. View "Vermont v. MPHJ Technology Investments" on Justia Law