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Federal Circuit Affirms District Court’s Dismissal Of Sham-Reexamination Lawsuit

November 17th, 2010

On November 15, 2010, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the complaint in Lockwood v. Sheppard, Mullins, Richter & Hampton, LLP.  Lockwood had sued the Sheppard Mullins law firm alleging that the law firm “intentionally abused the patent process established by the USPTO and by Congress by filing fraudulent and malicious Requests for Reexamination of the Patents,” which Lockwood owned.  Lockwood alleged that the Sheppard Mullins firm violated its duty of candor to the USPTO by lying about what the prior art disclosed, the dates on which certain references were published, and whether some references qualified as printed publications all to persuade the USPTO to institute a patent reexaminations of  Lockwood’s patent.  Lockwood framed his claims under California state law causes of action for malicious prosecution, interference with business relationships, fraud, and violations of the federal anti-racketeering act.

The defendants moved to dismiss Lockwood’s lawsuit, arguing that federal patent law preempted Lockwood’s private causes of action against them.  The district court agreed.  Lockwood appealed the dismissal to the Federal Circuit.  The Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal in a non-precedential decision, which did not state any reasoning for the affirmance.  Although the case is non-precedential, the result in this case would seem to make it more difficult for patent owners to challenge a third-party requesters filing a reexamination request, even if there are allegations that the requests were fraudulent.

Download the Complaint