District Court Holds Unconstiutional Qui Tam Provisions of False Marking Statute
By Nathan Lovejoy – Edited by Chinh Vo
Unique Prod. Solutions, Ltd. v. Hy-Grade Valve, Inc., No. 5:10-CV-1912 (N.D. Ohio Feb. 23, 2011)
Slip opinion hosted by Inventive Step
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio granted defendant Hy-Grade’s motion to dismiss on the grounds that the qui tam provision of the Patent Act’s False Marking statute, 35 U.S.C. § 292, is unconstitutional.
The district court held that the qui tam provision of 35 U.S.C. § 292(b) violated the Take Care Clause of the Constitution because it does not provide the Department of Justice with the adequate statutory controls under the “sufficient control” analysis of Morrison v. Olson, 487 U.S. 654 (1988). In so holding, the court relied on the Federal Circuit’s statement in Pequignot v. Solo Cup Co., 608 F.3d 1356 (Fed. Cir. 2010) that “the statute is a criminal one[,]” while simultaneously rejecting the Pequignot district court’s historically-grounded analysis of the qui tam provision. The court found instead that “[t]he False Marking statute essentially represents a wholesale delegation of criminal law enforcement power to private entities with no control exercised by the U.S. Department of Justice.”
Law360 provides an overview of the case. IPFrontline believes this decision suggests that “we may see some clarity regarding the constitutionality” of the False Marking statute from the Federal Circuit in the pending case FLFMC, LLC v. Wham-O, Inc., No. 2011-1067. (more…)