Pharmaceutical Hatch-Waxman litigation proceeds under a unique framework.  In this case, Hatch-Waxman declaratory judgment (“DJ”) defendants Gilead Sciences, Inc. (“Gilead”) and Astellas Pharma US, Inc. (“Astellas Pharma”) sought to dismiss Astellas Pharma for lack of personal jurisdiction and improper venue, and to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19 non-joined and “necessary party” Astellas US LLC (“Astellas LLC’), the exclusive licensee.[1]  DJ plaintiff Apotex Inc. (“Apotex”) did not contest dismissing Astellas Pharma, nor seriously contest lack of personal jurisdiction or improper venue of Astellas LLC.  Instead, Apotex sought to apply the plain language of the Hatch-Waxman Act and its specific provisions regarding Hatch-Waxman DJ actions to prevent dismissal under Rule 19 for failure to join a required party.[2]  Thus, the dispute centered on whether Rule 19 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) applied to Hatch-Waxman DJ actions and, if so, whether Astellas LLC was a required party necessitating dismissal.

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It is a “well-established rule that suits against alien defendants are outside the operation of the federal venue laws.”[1] Judge Gilliam stopped a declaratory judgment plaintiff’s attempt to initiate a parallel lawsuit in California when only the plaintiff’s foreign parent was sued in Texas.

AU Optronics Corporation (“AUO”) was formed in 2001 in Taiwan when Acer Display Technology, Inc. merged with Unipac Optoelectronics Corporation.  In 2002, AUO was listed at the New York Stock Exchange, becoming the first manufacturer of pure TFT-LCDs to do so.

Plaintiff AU Optronics Corporation America (“AUO USA”) has a principal place of business in California. Before AUO USA filed its declaratory judgment action in the Northern District of California, Defendant Vista Peak Ventures, LLC (“Vista Peak”) had filed three lawsuits against AUO USA’s foreign parent corporation in the Eastern District of Texas alleging patent infringement. None of the Texas lawsuits named AUO USA as a defendant.


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Olivia Garden was founded in Belgium in 1967 by husband and wife team Jean and Micheline Rennette (pictured right).  According to its website, Olivia Garden was and continues to be a pioneer in hairstyling, including introducing the first truly silent blowdryer in 1979 and the first ceramic-ionic combination brush in 2002.

But Judge Gilliam brushed off Olivia Garden’s bid for patent and trade dress infringement damages when he granted Defendant Stance Beauty’s motion to dismiss for improper venue.  In doing so, Judge Gilliam rejected Olivia Garden’s request to exercise “pendent venue.”  Judge Gilliam enumerated various reasons why Olivia Garden failed to show that Stance Beauty had a “regular and established place of business” in the Northern District of California, including that Stance Beauty was incorporated in Connecticut, never maintained a place of business in California, and had no offices, retail locations, officers, employees, books, or records in California.  Stance Beauty also had never attempted to become qualified or licensed to do business in California.  Thus, Olivia Garden’s request failed to satisfy either prong of 35 U.S.C. § 1400(b) in view of TC Heartland.[1]


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In one of the first post-Berkheimer decisions to invalidate patent claims on the pleadings, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers invalidated thirty-seven claims across four patents asserted in fourteen cases filed by Cellspin Soft, Inc. because the claims were patent-ineligible.  Her order makes clear that an invention’s benefits must be disclosed in the patent specification, and not just advocated by the party enforcing the patent.  While some initially saw the February 2018 Berkheimer decision from the Federal Circuit as a death knell for Rule 12(b)(6) motions under Section 101, Judge Gonzalez Rogers’ order demonstrates how courts and infringement defendants may use a broad patent specification’s failure to describe the claimed invention’s purported improvements and benefits to invalidate it at the pleadings stage.[1]

Case Background and Asserted Patents.  On October 16, 2017, Plaintiff Cellspin Soft, Inc., filed thirteen lawsuits against popular consumer electronics manufacturers and distributors, including Canon USA, GoPro, Inc., Fitbit, Inc., and NIKE, Inc.  The complaints allege that digital cameras, smart watches, fitness tracking wearables, and other popular devices infringe various claims in U.S. Patent Nos. 8,734,794, 8,892,752, 9,749,847, and 9,258,698.  On December 1, Cellspin Soft filed a fourteenth case against JK Imaging Ltd., a digital camera manufacturer.


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