A patent infringement lawsuit has raised questions surrounding state sovereign principles in district courts.
The University of Texas (UT) originally filed a patent infringement case against Boston Scientific Corporation (BSC) at the US District Court for the Western District of Texas.
In its complaint, UT contended violation of US patent numbers 6,596,296 and 7,033,603, relating to tissue engineering compositions and methods for in vitro cell growth, and hydrogel biodegradable fibre compositions, respectively.
These two patents were exclusively licensed by UT-linked TissueGen, the developer of ELUTE fibre, relating to advanced drug delivery, nerve regeneration and tissue engineering. UT argued the patents were infringed by BSC’s stent products. P> The district court transferred the infringement case to the District of Delaware on the basis that BSC does not reside in or have an established place of business in the western district of Texas.
UT appealed this decision, asserting its rights as a sovereign entity operating as a branch of the State of Texas. In its case to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, UT argued: “it would offend the dignity of the State to require it to pursue persons who have harmed the State outside the territory of Texas”.
Appellate judges Sharon Prost, Jimmie Reyna and Kara Farnandez Stoll affirmed the district court’s transfer order, highlighting that UT’s sovereign rights “do not allow it to escape the application of the patent venue statute in this case.”