A small rival of 3M, Moldex-Metric, Inc. (Moldex), claims that 3M brought baseless patent infringement claims to stifle competition. Moldex sued 3M for malicious prosecution, antitrust violations and unfair competition. Moldex claims 3M filed a “sham” patent infringement lawsuit in 2012 because it “was deeply concerned about facing competition from Moldex.” From the outset, Moldex says, 3M’s claims stood no chance, but 3M pursued the lawsuit anyway, forcing Moldex to incur substantial expense and disrupting Moldex’s business. 

3M DISMISSED ITS OWN CLAIMS

Moldex alleges that 3M maintained the “objectively baseless” patent infringement lawsuit until one week before Modlex’s motion for summary judgment of non-infringement was scheduled to be heard. At that time, 3M sent Molex a covenant not to sue and asked the court to dismiss the claim. The suit continued on a different patent for several months until 3M sent Moldex a covenant not to sue on the remaining patent, disposing of the case. Moldex contends that 3M knew all along that its patent infringement claims would fail, and that it pursued them to discourage competition.

WILL 3M FACE PUNITIVE DAMAGES?

When Moldex first sued, 3M moved to dismiss, and asserted that Moldex did not state viable claims. The Court denied the motion and held that Moldex’s allegations, if proven, were sufficient to prevail. 

In July, Moldex filed a motion to seek punitive damages on its malicious prosecution claim. The motion will be heard on August 10 before Magistrate Judge Franklin Noel.

The case is Moldex Metric, Inc. v. 3M Company, et al, Case No. 14-cv-1821 JNE/FLN.