Walker Process Eqpt., Inc. v. Food Machinery Corp. - 382 U.S. 172 (1965)
U.S. Supreme Court
Walker Process Eqpt., Inc. v. Food Machinery Corp., 382 U.S. 172 (1965)
Walker Process Equipment, Inc. v.
Food Machinery & Chemical Corp.
Argued October 12-13, 1965
Decided December 6, 1965
382 U.S. 172
Petitioner, in answer to respondent's suit for patent infringement, denied the infringement and counterclaimed for a declaratory judgment holding the patent invalid. After discovery proceedings, respondent moved to dismiss its complaint because the patent had expired. Petitioner then amended its counterclaim to charge that respondent had illegally monopolized commerce by having fraudulently and in bad faith obtained and maintained the patent in violation of the antitrust laws, and sought treble damages. The District Court dismissed the complaint and the counterclaim, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.
Held: The enforcement of a patent procured by fraud on the Patent Office may violate § 2 of the Sherman Act, provided all other elements to establish a § 2 monopolization charge are proved, in which event the treble damage provisions of § 4 of the Clayton Act would be available to the injured party. Pp. 382 U. S. 175-178.
(a) Petitioner is not barred by the rule that only the United States may sue to cancel a patent, since, by its counterclaim under the Clayton Act, it does not directly seek the patent's annulment. Pp. 382 U. S. 175-176.
(b) In these circumstances rights under the antitrust laws outweigh the protection of patentees from vexatious suits. P. 382 U. S. 176.
(c) The recovery of treble damages for the fraudulent procurement of a patent coupled with violations of § 2 of the Sherman Act accords with long recognized procedures whereby an injured party may attack the misuse of patent rights. Pp. 382 U. S. 176-177.
(d) Proof of intentional fraud in obtaining the patent would deprive respondent of its exemption from the antitrust laws, while its good faith would furnish a complete defense. P. 382 U. S. 177.
(e) The case is remanded to the trial court to allow petitioner to clarify and offer proof on the alleged violations of § 2. P. 382 U. S. 178.
335 F.2d 315 reversed and remanded.