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May 20, 2013

Gunn v. Minton: Malpractice Claims Involving Patent Issues Do Not Create Exclusive Federal Question Jurisdiction Under 28 U.S.C. § 1338

Arnold & Porter Advisory

28 U.S.C. § 1138 provides that federal courts shall have jurisdiction over any case "arising under any act of Congress relating to patents" and that "[n]o state court shall have jurisdiction over any claim for relief arising under any Act of Congress relating to patents," (emphasis added). In Gunn v. Minton, 133 S. Ct. 1059 (2013), the Supreme Court held that federal courts' jurisdiction over cases "arising under any Act of Congress relating to patents," 28 U.S.C. § 1338(a), does not extend to state law malpractice claims arising out of alleged malpractice in a patent suit, despite the fact that the presiding court may be required to decide underlying issues of patent law to resolve the malpractice dispute. The decision is important on at least two fronts. First, it overrules recent decisions by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit holding that state law patent malpractice claims give rise to "arising under" jurisdiction in federal courts. Second, the reasoning of the Court in Gunn arguably suggests that other state law claims that also necessarily implicate issues of federal patent law nonetheless do not give rise to federal question jurisdiction.

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