Judge Hillman dismisses inequitable conduct counterclaims

Judge Noel L. Hillman of the United States District for the District of New Jersey, sitting by designation, recently granted Materia Inc.’s (“Materia”) motion to dismiss Evonik Degussa GmbH’s (“Evonik”) counterclaims for inequitable conduct. Evonik Degussa GmbH v. Materia, Inc., C.A. No. 09-636-NHL/JS (D. Del. Apr. 6, 2016). The Court had previously granted Evonik’s motion for partial summary judgment that it does not infringe Materia’s U.S. Patent No. 7,622,590 (“the ’590 Patent”). Id. at 1-2. Following the Court’s decision, Materia provided Evonik with a broad covenant not to sue (“CNS”) on the ’590 Patent. The parties agreed that the “the CNS moots Evonik’s counterclaim for invalidity.” Id. at 2. The specific question before the court was “whether following a partial summary judgment determination as to noninfringement, a CNS covering noninfringement, invalidity, and all future claims moots a counterclaim for inequitable conduct.” Id. at 3. After a review of the “evolving case law” on this topic, Judge Hillman concluded that “Materia’s CNS is sufficiently broad to remove any case or controversy regarding the ’590 Patent and therefore Evonik has failed to meet its burden of showing a substantial controversy exists as to the ’590 Patent.” Id. at 7. Judge Hillman agreed with Materia “that for all intents and purposes the CNS ‘kills the ’590 Patent vis-à-vis Evonik.’” Id. Accordingly, Judge Hillman dismissed the inequitable conduct counterclaims.

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