Chris Tavantzis and ChrisTrikes Custom Motorcycles, Inc. ("ChrisTrikes") filed a complaint against a number of individuals and entities that allegedly infringed on a patent for a wheelchair-accessible motorcycle (the "Wheelchair Motorcycle Patent"). After the complaint was filed, the district court received notice of Mr. Tavantzis' death. When no party moved to substitute the proper party to continue Mr. Tavantzis' claims within the time required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 25(a), the district court dismissed Mr. Tavantzis from the lawsuit, leaving ChrisTrikes as the only remaining plaintiff.
As a result, the district court examined whether ChrisTrikes' had standing to maintain the patent infringement claims, which included claims based on theories of direct infringement, contributory infringement, and induced infringement. The district court noted that "[b]ecause standing is a fundamental component of a federal court's subject matter jurisdiction, the Court is entitled to examine ChrisTrikes' standing on its own initiative. See Bischoff v. Osceola Cty., 222 F.3d 874, 877-78 (11th Cir. 2000)."
The district court explained that "[i]n order to have standing to bring its patent claims, ChrisTrikes must not only demonstrate that it satisfies Article III's constitutional standing requirements, but also that it has standing as defined by the Patent Act. Alps S., LLC v. Ohio Willow Wood Co., 787 F.3d 1379, 1382 (Fed. Cir. 2015), cert. denied, 136 S. Ct. 897 (2016). To that end, the Patent Act affords standing to the 'patentee,' a term which is construed to include both the individual or entity to whom a patent is issued and any 'successors in title to the patentee.' Id. (quoting 35 U.S.C. § 100(d)). Additionally, well-established case law provides standing to exclusive licensees of a patent as long as the patent holder transfers 'all substantial rights' in the patent to the licensee. Id. (quoting Int'l Gamco, Inc. v. Multimedia Games, Inc., 504 F.3d 1273, 1276 (Fed. Cir. 2007))."
The district court then found that "the patent in dispute names only Mr. Tavantzis as the patentee. Further, ChrisTrikes does not contend that it is an exclusive licensee of the patent or that Mr. Tavantzis has transferred any interest in the patent to ChrisTrikes. Indeed, ChrisTrikes concedes that 'Mr. Tavantzis is the owner of all rights, title, and interest' in the patent, including the right to sue for its infringement."
The district court therefore concluded that ChrisTrikes did not have standing to bring "any of the patent infringement claims it asserts."
Christrikes Custom Motorcycles v. Paul Teutul, Jr., Case No. 6:14-cv-1519-Orl-40TBS (M.D. Fla. June 21, 2016)
The authors of www.PatentLawyerBlog.com are patent trial lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. For more information about this case, contact Stan Gibson at 310.201.3548 or SGibson@jmbm.com.