June 10, 2021

Antitrust Law is Not Appealing to the Federal Circuit

In Chandler v. Phoenix Services LLC[2020-1848] (June 10, 2021), the Federal Circuit transferred the appeal of a Walker Process antitrust case to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit after concluding that it did not have jurisdiction over the appeal.

Appellants were asserting antitrust claims based on the attempted enforcement of U.S. Patent No. 8,171,993, which had been held unenforceable due to inequitable conduct.

The Federal Circuit has jurisdiction over the appeal of a final decision of a district court “in any civil action arising under … any Act of Congress relating to patents.” 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(1). However, the Federal Circuit noted, “while Walker Process antitrust claims may relate to patents in the colloquial use of the term, our jurisdiction extends only to those cases in which a well-pleaded complaint establishes either that federal patent law creates the cause of action or that the plaintiff’s right to relief necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial question of federal patent law, in that patent law is a necessary element of one of the well-pleaded claims.”

Because Appellant’s cause of action arises under the Sherman Act rather than under patent law, and because the claims do not depend on resolution of a substantial question of patent law, the Federal Circuit lacked subject matter jurisdiction.