Federal Court Holds that Patent Infringement May Be Anticompetitive Conduct | Practical Law

Federal Court Holds that Patent Infringement May Be Anticompetitive Conduct | Practical Law

The US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas held that patent infringement may be considered anticompetitive conduct under Section 2 of the Sherman Act.

Federal Court Holds that Patent Infringement May Be Anticompetitive Conduct

Practical Law Legal Update 2-541-2245 (Approx. 3 pages)

Federal Court Holds that Patent Infringement May Be Anticompetitive Conduct

by Practical Law Antitrust
Published on 12 Sep 2013USA (National/Federal)
The US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas held that patent infringement may be considered anticompetitive conduct under Section 2 of the Sherman Act.
In a September 9, 2013, order in Retractable Technologies, Inc. v. Becton, Dickinson and Co. the US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas held that patent infringement may be considered anticompetitive conduct under Section 2 of the Sherman Act. Neither the court nor the parties could cite to a prior ruling on the issue. In the underlying complaint, plaintiff Retractable Technologies, Inc. alleged, among other things, a monopolization claim against its competitor Becton, Dickinson and Co. (BD) for infringing on plaintiff's patent for retractable syringe needles. BD filed a motion for summary judgment on the notion that patent infringement may not be considered anticompetitive conduct under Section 2.
The court reasoned that although binding precedent dictates that patent infringement may not be considered antitrust injury, it was not aware of any precedent pertaining to whether patent infringement may be considered anticompetitive conduct under Section 2. By holding that patent infringement may be anticompetitive, the court adopted a recommendation by a US Magistrate Judge that:
  • Section 2 is intended to cover all anticompetitive acts.
  • Although no known court has held that patent infringement may be considered anticompetitive conduct under Section 2, that alone is not considered precedent for future courts to follow.
  • BD's motion for summary judgment be denied.
Practical considerations:
The Eastern District of Texas has historically been plaintiff-friendly. Therefore, it is not surprising that it is the first known court to recognize that patent infringement may be considered exclusionary conduct under Section 2 of the Sherman Act.
Court documents: