Judge Thynge recommends denial of motion to dismiss due to lack of case or controversy

In the declaratory judgment action Tabletop Media, LLC v. AMI Entertainment Network, LLC, C.A. No. 16-1121-RGA-MPT (D. Del. Oct. 10, 2017), Chief Magistrate Judge Mary Pat Thynge recommended that Defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, due to a lack of case or controversy, be denied.  The Court pointed to the following facts in support of its conclusion that an actual case or controversy existed:

Here, [Defendant] AMI asserted its rights under the ‘091 patent and alleged [Plaintiff] Tabletop’s Ziosk had features that were covered by the patent. In addition, AMI requested a response within 10 days. In its response, Tabletop insisted the patent was not relevant to its Ziosk product, but AMI continued to assert the patent’s relevance and requested that its patent lawyer be included in a meeting between the parties. Just as in [Hewlett-Packard v. Acceleron, LLC , 587 F.3d 1358 (Fed. Cir. 2009)], AMI affirmatively contacted Tabletop asserting its patent rights, Tabletop disagreed, and AMI continued to claim that the patent was relevant to Tabletop’s Ziosk. Thus, there is an actual case and controversy because the two parties have opposing legal interests that are redressable by a court decision.

Id. at 11. The Court further noted that a declaratory plaintiff need not cut of licensing discussions before seeking a declaration of its rights, id. at 12; here, the parties had continued discussions after Tabletop filed this suit and AMI had not threatened any litigation but also had not assured it would not sue for infringement.  Finally, the Court observed that exercising its discretion to dismiss the declaratory judgment suit would be inappropriate here, as “[t]his is the type of situation the Declaratory Judgment Act was designed to address. The parties have an adverse legal interest, and, the adverse legal interest is ‘fairly traceable’ to AMI’s conduct.” Id. at 13.

Tabletop Media, LLC v. AMI Entertainment Network, LLC, C.A. No. 16-1121-RGA-MPT (D. Del. Oct. 10, 2017)


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