State Statute Restricting Assertion of Patent Infringement Not At Issue, So Remand to State Court Appropriate

Many of the states have passed legislation purporting to restrict a patent owner’s right to make accusations of infringement.  Some of these statutes seem to be of questionable validity, but we will have to wait for a determination.  In State of Vermont v, MPHJ Technology Investments, LLC, [2015-1310] (September 28, 2015), the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s remand back to state Court, finding that the Vermont Bad Faith Assertions of Patent Infringement Act (“BFAPIA”) had not (yet) been raised by the state.

The State of Vermont initiated an action under the Vermont Consumer Protection Act, 9 V.S.A. § 2453(a) for unfair trade practices and deceptive trade practices arising from MPHJ’s conduct in sending patent infringement warnings in the State of Vermont.  The district court found that Vermont was not seeking an injunction that requires MPHJ’s compliance with the Vermont Bad Faith Assertions of Patent Infringement Act (“BFAPIA”), 9 V.S.A. §§ 4195–99.. Given this conclusion, the Federal Circuit agreed that if the State
prevails on the merits in state court, it may not seek an injunction requiring MPHJ to comply with the BFAPIA.  The Federal Circuit found that because MPHJ relies
on the BFAPIA as its basis for removal under § 1442(a)(2), the necessary consequence of our decision is that we find no grounds for removal to federal court.