On June 29, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in Minerva Surgical, Inc. v. Hologic, Inc., No. 20-440 (June 29, 2021) (slip opinion). Minerva involves a challenge to the “assignor estoppel” doctrine, which is an equitable or “court-created” rule that prevents a party who assigned a patent from later challenging the validity of the assigned patent in district court. The Court first gave the doctrine its seal of approval in 1924, by ruling that principles of fair dealing should limit an inventor’s ability to assign a patent to another for value and then later argue in litigation that the patent is invalid. Westinghouse Elec. & Mfg. Co. v. Formica Insulation Co., 266 U.S. 342, 349 (1924).

Now, nearly a century later, the Court ruled that it is time to narrow the scope of assignor estoppel. In its decision authored by Justice Elena Kagan, the Court concluded that assignor estoppel applies “when, but only when, the assignor’s claim of invalidity contradicts explicit or implicit representations he made in assigning the patent.” Minerva, slip op. at 1

The Facts

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]