Federal Circuit Potential for Indirect Infringement Liability Provides a Justiciable Controversy for Declaratory Judgment Jurisdiction

In Arkema Inc. v. Honeywell Int’l, Inc., the Federal Circuit reversed a District Court’s finding of no justiciable controversy under Article III for a declaratory judgment suit over indirect infringement liability. Arkema brought the suit because it and Honeywell were two competitors in the automobile refrigerant market. In reversing the District Court, the Federal Circuit provides guidance for a party to seek declaratory relief.

For a federal court to have jurisdiction, there must be an “actual case or controversy” between the parties; federal courts may not issue purely advisory opinions. The Supreme Court in MedImmune, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc. (here), explained that the test of “when an action for declaratory judgment presents a justiciable controversy is whether the facts alleged, under all the circumstances, show that there is a substantial controversy, between parties having adverse legal interests, of sufficient immediacy and reality to warrant the issuance of a declaratory judgment.”

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