State university technology transfer programs enjoy immunity from declaratory judgment (DJ) actions of patent invalidity/non-infringement. This is because state entities qualify for 11th amendment immunity from suits in federal district courts. So, absent the rare waiver of 11th amendment immunity, licensing targets of state university technology transfer programs have no recourse to proactively challenge the subject patents in the federal district courts.
The immunity benefit enjoyed by such state-run technology transfer licensing programs was most recently made clear in Cyanotech Corp. v. Valensa Intl. & The Univ. of Ill. (D.Haw) (here) In Cyanotech, the DJ action against the Univ. of Illinois was dismissed based on 11th amendment grounds.
Yet, a DJ action in the district courts is not the only avenue to challenge the validity of an issued patent in a forum more favorable to potential licensees. As demonstrated by early filings at the USPTO’s Patent Trial & Appeal Board (PTAB) universities are increasingly the target of Inter Partes Review (IPR) Filings. Read the rest of this entry »