Circuit Applies New Test for Declaratory Judgment
Areas of Focus | 2008/04/01 16:26

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed a district court’s dismissal of a declaratory judgment action, relying on the Supreme Court’s decision in MedImmune Inc. v. Genentech Inc., 127 S.Ct. 764 (2007). See Micron Technology, Inc. v. MOSAID Technologies, Inc., 2008 WL 540182 (Feb. 29, 2008)

Micron was one of the four largest manufacturers of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips. Micron, together with Samsung Electronics Company, Ltd, Hynix Semiconductor, Inc., and Infineon Technologies of North America, controlled seventy-five percent of the worldwide market for these chips.

MOSAID held patents on the circuit technology that was used in the manufacture of DRAM chips. In 2001 and 2002, MOSAID sent a series of four letters to Micron inviting Micron to license MOSAID’s patents.

After sending letters to all four of the manufacturers who declined to enter into licenses with MOSAID, MOSAID began patent infringement litigation against each of the manufacturers. MOSAID first sued Samsung. Infineon then sued MOSAID for declaratory judgment of noninfringement. MOSAID and Samsung settled. MOSAID then sued Hynix, who later settled. MOSAID then settled with Infineon. In each settlement, MOSAID granted the manufacturer a license under its patents. MOSAID made statements in public and in its 2005 annual report that it intended to “aggressively” pursue all other DRAM manufacturers to force them to license MOSAID’s technology, and that it would be “unrelenting” in its litigation strategy. The industry believed that Micron was the next target of MOSAID.       

In July 2005, Micron filed a declaratory judgment in the Northern District of California seeking a declaration of noninfringement of 14 patents owned by MOSAID. The following day, MOSAID sued Micron and two other defendants, in the Eastern District of Texas, for infringing seven patents.  MOSAID later added one more defendant and three more patents to the Texas action.            

MOSAID then moved to dismiss the California action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The district court granted MOSAID’s motion on the grounds that Micron had no reasonable apprehension of being sued by MOSAID. The district court found that there was no evidence of threats from MOSAID to Micron for the last four years, no threats from MOSAID to Micron’s customers, and no public statements by MOSAID that it intented to sue Micron.           

Micron appealed and the Federal Circuit reversed.           

The court first held that the district court in California did have subject matter jurisdiction over the case. The district court had applied the wrong test – the “reasonable apprehension” test is not the proper test, according to the Supreme Court in MedImmune. The correct test, which the appellate court repeatedly stated “is more lenient,” is “whether the facts alleged under all the circumstances show that there is a substantial controversy between parties having adverse legal interests of sufficient immediacy and reality to warrant the issuance of a declaratory judgment.” Micron, quoting MedImmune, 127 S.Ct. at 771.            

In applying this test, a district court must look at the evidence of all of the circumstances. In this case, the evidence included the series of letters from MOSAID to Micron, the previous suits from MOSAID against the other three manufacturers, and MOSAID’s public statements of its intent to aggressively pursue litigation against the remaining manufacturers.         



Taking A Look At Surveillance
Legal Topics | 2008/04/01 16:16

US Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Friday that he was willing to compromise with Congress on legislation amending the Foreign Intelligence Security Act but that the legislature would have to provide a "workable bill". Mukasey said that the bill passed by the US House of Representatives last week, which did not provide retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that participated in the NSA warrantless surveillance program, did not meet this threshold. Last month, the Senate passed a version of the bill that did provide retroactive immunity to the companies. Mukasey stopped short of urging the House to adopt that version of the bill, however, and instead expressed hope that a compromise could be reached between the House bill and the Bush administration, which supports the immunity provision.

Mukasey's comments come roughly a week after President Bush said again that he would veto any FISA amendment legislation that did not include the immunity provision. The House bill would defer the issue of immunity to the courts to be resolved on a case-by-case basis, but would also allow the cases to be heard in closed-door hearings. Last month, Mukasey and US Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell said that vital intelligence had been lost while telecommunications companies circumvented wiretapping orders as they waited for word on whether the immunity provision would be included in the new legislation. Mukasey said that the relationship between the private companies and the government had since been repaired and that intelligence gathering activities were now running smoothly.



Supremes weigh habeas rights of US citizens held in Iraq
Legal Topics | 2008/03/27 16:24

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in the consolidated cases of Munaf v. Geren and Geren v. Omar where the Court is considering whether federal courts have jurisdiction over habeas corpus petitions filed by American citizens detained by US military personnel operating under a multinational force. The cases also present the issue of whether a federal court would have jurisdiction over a habeas petition filed by an American citizen if a foreign court convicted the citizen of a crime, but the citizen is still in the physical custody of American authorities. Mohammad Munaf was convicted and sentenced to death for the kidnapping of three Romanian journalists in Baghdad, and the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in April 2007 that it lacked authority to interfere with the Iraqi court case. Two months earlier, however, the same court ruled that Shawqi Omar, arrested for allegedly harboring insurgents in Iraq, has a right to argue his case in US courts. The appeals court blocked Omar's transfer to Iraqi courts. Earlier this month, Munaf's conviction was overturned by an Iraqi appeals court. Lawyers for the detainees argued that because they are in US custody, they should have access to US courts, but several justices seemed to reject that argument, noting that could lead to any Multi-National Force-Iraq detainee challenging their arrest in US courts. AP has more.

The Court also heard oral arguments in United States v. Ressam, where "millennium bomber" Ahmed Ressam is challenging his conviction under 18 USC § 844(h)(2), which authorizes a mandatory minimum ten year jail term for anyone carrying explosives while committing a felony. In Ressam's case, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit dismissed the count as the underlying felony - lying on customs papers - was not related to the explosives charge. Ressam has been sentenced to 22 years in prison  for plotting to blow up Los Angeles International Airport on New Year's Eve 1999. US Attorney General Michael Mukasey argued the case on behalf of the government.



Nominees Announced for 10TH Judicial Circuit
Headline Legal News | 2008/03/27 15:54

fter consultation with The Florida Bar and general counsel for Gov. Charlie Crist, the 10th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission met on March 24, 2008, and named additional nominees for the two circuit judge positions made vacant by the retirements of Judges Ralph Artigliere and Susan Roberts.

These additional nominees are: Mark H. Hofstad, Robin Matis-Jackson, and Donald E. Ratterree.

The following is a complete list of nominees for the three pending judicial positions (in alphabetical order):

David R. Carmichael
Angela J. Cowden
Mark H. Hofstad
Robin Matis-Jackson
Michael E. Raiden
Donald E. Ratterree
Ryan Christopher Rodems
Keith P. Spoto
Ronald N. Toward



Guantanamo Claims Before EU Court of Human Rights
Legal Topics | 2008/03/26 16:33
Six Guantanamo Bay prisoners, whose case was heard by the USSupreme Court in December, filed claims in the European Court of HumanRights in Strasbourg against Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Bosnianauthorities failed for many years to take any steps to negotiate andsecure the men’s release from Guantanamo. The claims address thetorture and other inhumane and degrading treatment the men havesuffered during the six years since they were illegally delivered byBosnia to US forces and taken to Guantanamo.

Thefilings describe in chilling detail the indignities, injuries, tortureand terror inflicted by US military personnel on the six men in thecourse of their imprisonment at Guantanamo. Accompanying medicalopinions describe the resulting destruction of their physical andmental health. Beginning with a 30 hour flight on which he wasshackled, and blindfolded and through the ensuing years when he hasbeen subjected to extended periods of sleep deprivation, solitaryconfinement, assault during interrogation and threats of rape, Mr.Boumediene, like the 5 others, has suffered life shattering physicaland mental injuries.

Mr. Ait Idir, who was taken from hispregnant wife in violation of a Bosnian court order to free him,detailed multiple beatings by rogue guards, extended periods ofisolation from other prisoners and multiple occasions when he wasopenly denied needed medical treatment. In one especially gruesomeattack, Mr. Ait Idir describes how, while his hands and feet were tied,rogue guards stuffed a flowing hose into his mouth, repeatedly slammedhis head and torso into steel and concrete surfaces, lowered his faceand head into a toilet and inflicted blows of such force that his headand face were paralyzed for months.


American College of Trial Lawyers Chooses Lukey
Court Watch | 2008/03/26 16:29
WilmerHale Partner Joan Lukeywas selected on March 5 to become the next President-Elect of theAmerican College of Trial Lawyers’ (ACTL). Ms. Lukey is the first womanever to serve in this capacity and was chosen for the role by the PastPresidents of this prestigious organization. She will serve asTreasurer and President-Elect Designate until September, when she willofficially assume her new position.

Ms. Lukey willautomatically ascend to the position of President at the Annual Meetingof the ACTL held in Boston in October of 2009.

"This is theproudest achievement of my professional career,” Ms. Lukey said. “Tohave risen to the highest level in this organization comprised of thoseattorneys who have been recognized as the best of the trial bar is bothexhilarating and humbling."

The ACTL is composed of Fellowswho represent the finest of the trial bar in the US and Canada. Foundedin 1950, the College is dedicated to maintaining and improving thestandards of trial practice and the administration of justice.Membership in the college is by invitation only after a rigorousscreening process involving current Fellows and state and federaljudges in the state or province in which a nominee practices.


High court rejects anti-Clinton movie case
Legal Topics | 2008/03/25 16:28

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court has rejected aconservative group's legal fight to air commercials promoting a moviecritical of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal in a case involving ads for a movie critical of Sen. Hillary Clinton.

The case, rejected on jurisdictional grounds, was appealed after afederal District Court refused to issue a preliminary injunctionclearing the way for the promotions.

At issue was whetherbroadcast ads promoting the 90-minute documentary "Hillary: The Movie"are subject to strict campaign finance laws on political advocacy, orwould be considered a constitutionally protected form of commercialspeech.

Citizens United, a Washington-based advocacyorganization, had urged the justices to accept its appeal on anexpedited basis this spring, in time for the ads to have an impact onthe election season.

Clinton is in a tight race for the Democratic presidential nomination with Sen. Barack Obama.



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