Declaratory Judgment Jurisdiction Found Where Patent License Negotiations Reached an Impasse and NDA Did Not Preclude a Lawsuit
Plaintiff Biomet, Inc. ("Biomet") filed a complaint for Declaratory Judgment against Bonutti Skeletal Innovations, LLC ("Bonutti") seeking a declaration that the manufacture, use, or sale of Biomet's products does not infringe on Bonutti's patents. Bonutti filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Fed. R. Civ.P. 12(b)(1), arguing that, at the time the complaint was filed, there was no case or controversy as defined by the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201(a).
The district court explained the facts as follows. In June 2012, Acacia Research Group (ARG), Bonutti's parent company, contacted Biomet about a new licensing agreement. Shortly afterwards, Plaintiff and ARG began negotiating the terms of the licensing agreement. The bargaining process included the signing of a Non-Disclosure Agreement ("NDA"). The NDA's purpose was to facilitate the licensing of patents to avoid litigation. There was nothing in the NDA that prevented the parties from filing a lawsuit against each other at any point, for any reason.