Federal Court Lacked Jurisdiction over DJ for Non-Infringement; Where Defendant Did not Own the Patent

In First Data Corp. v. Inselberg, [2016-2677, 2016-2696] (September 15, 2017), the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s dismissal of plaintiff’s declaratory judgment and defendant’s counterclaims.

The ownership dispute regarding Inselberg’s patent portfolio stemmed from a $500,000 loan that Interactive received from Bisignano, which  Inselberg personally guaranteed, and for which Interactive granted Bisignano a security interest in the portfolio of patents it owned at the time.  Inselberg and Interactive defaulted on the loan from Bisignano, and Inselberg and Bisignano entered into an agreement that purported to
convey Interactive’s patent portfolio to Bisignano.

Inselberg claimed that the assignment to Bisignano was invalid, and that Bisignano and First Data were infringers.  Bisignano and First Data brought a declaratory judgment action of non-infringement in Federal Court, and Inselberg brought an action in state court attacking the assignment to Bisignano, which Bisignano removed to Federal Court.  However the district court found that the rights at issue in the case were ownership rights turning on questions of state law, and remanded the case to state court, finding that there was no federal cause of action unless and until Inselberg recovers the patents.

The Federal Circuit agreed with the district court, and further found that the case was not ripe for adjudication Inselberg’s claim rests upon a contingent future event, that may not occur as anticipated or may not occur at all.  The Federal Circuit further found that the decision to remand was based on 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), and thus Section 1447(d) precluded it from reviewing the district court’s remand order.