Jury Trial Not Required For Inequitable Conduct Issues

ComputerAGFA v. CREO Products (Fed. Cir. 2006).

In patent litigation involving patented computer-to-plate printing technology, the Massachusetts district court held a bench trial on the issues of inequitable conduct and enforceability before a jury trial on infringement and invalidity. In that bench trial, the patent was found unenforceable.

AGFA appealed — asserting that inequitable conduct and enforceability should have been tried by a jury. The CAFC disagreed — holding that the Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial does not extend to questions of inequitable conduct and enforceability.

Dissent by Newman:

The panel majority holds that the factual questions of both intent to deceive and materiality of deceptively withheld information are not subject to the jury right. This is a departure from the established jury right, for materiality and intent are quintessential questions of fact, and have been tried to a jury throughout the nation’s history. There is no basis for removing these factual questions from the jury when the jury is trier of fact. I respectfully dissent from the court’s holding that there is no right to a jury, and that the jury demand can be rejected at the trial court’s discretion.

More to come later . . .

2 thoughts on “Jury Trial Not Required For Inequitable Conduct Issues

  1. Apropos my comment of 26 June, here we are yet again with Judge Newman contributing yet another well reasoned dissent. In addition, today Judge Newman again wrote a compelling dissent on the Bruckelmeyter Order which denied a rehearing en banc. Three dissents in the space of one week, all three brilliantly argued, all three leading the reasonable mind to conclude that the majority panel made an error. Extraordinary. Does this suggest a problem at the CAFC?
    Perhaps the Supreme Court’s taking on the KSR case indicates some manner of a lack of confidence in the CAFC’s decision making, if not necessarily granting cert to change the law but to confirm it, in light of the public’s recent second guessing of the CAFC (which even if in that case it is unwarranted the CAFC has brought it on themselves with these other peculiar decisions).

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