Weekly IP Takeaways

Prepared by Cislo & Thomas LLP Attorney Mark D. Nielsen, Ph.D.

1. The Ninth Circuit, in an unpublished opinion, reversed a grant of summary judgment in favor of an insurance company where the intellectual property exclusion language did not plainly and unambiguously bar coverage for counterclaims against the insured even though the insured introduced the intellectual property-related allegations into the case in its affirmative claims against the defendant. That said, this is an encouraging opinion for insureds in efforts to obtain insurance coverage in IP cases.

2. A decision out of the Northern District of California granted a motion to dismiss a declaratory relief case for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Court granted the motion to dismiss, finding that cease and desist letter-related communications concerning allegations of patent infringement were not enough to show purposefully-directed, enforcement-related activities towards the Northern District of California to support the existence of specific jurisdiction for the declaratory relief claims against the patent owner. While there has been some recent “leakage” in terms of cease and desist letters supporting personal jurisdiction, this opinion tracks the traditional rule that a cease and desist letter (and even some limited follow-up communications), without more, typically will not support the existence of personal jurisdiction.

3. In an interesting opinion from the Federal Circuit, the Court affirmed a decision by the Northern District of California finding that a prison inmate in New Jersey lacked capacity to sue. The lack of capacity was based on a New Jersey statute that prohibited a prison inmate from operating a business without permission from the Administrator. The plaintiff in the case did not have such permission, but argued that suing in his individual capacity was not operation of a business. The district court rejected that argument, and the Federal Circuit affirmed.