CAFC Jurisdiction Set At Filing of Complaint

MedImmune v. Genentech (Fed. Cir. 2005)

MedImmune, a licensee in good standing, filed a declaratory judgment action to challenge the patents validity and enforceability. The district court dismissed the action, without prejudice, finding no “case of actual controversy.” On appeal, the CAFC affirmed holding that a licensee in good standing is not under threat of being sued for patent infringement and thus cannot bring a DJ action. (Citing MedImmune v. Centocor).

MedImmune also had pending antitrust claims and asked that once the Federal Circuit had disposed of all the patent claims, the case be transferred to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  The CAFC panel disagreed, finding that “the jurisdiction of the Federal Circuit is established by the well-pleaded complaint in the district court, whereupon the Federal Circuit must exercise jurisdiction of all of the issues in the case.”  According to the panel, jurisdiction is determined “at the outset of litigation” and does not change — except when sham charges of patent infringement are brought to manipulate the appeals process.

In dissent, Judge Clevenger argued that the district court’s dismissal without prejudice was “equivalent for jurisdictional purposes to an amendment removing the declaratory judgment claims from the complaint.”  Because no other claims in MedImmune’s complaint “arise under” patent law, Clevenger argued that the regional circuit should now have jurisdiction over the case.