A direct purchaser has standing to assert a Walker Process antitrust claim even if it does not have standing to challenge the validity of the patent.
A district court denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of standing in a suit alleging antitrust violations predicated on the enforcement of a patent known to have been fraudulently procured—i.e., a Walker Process antitrust claim. The Federal Circuit granted the defendant’s request for an interlocutory appeal on the question of “whether direct purchasers who cannot challenge a patent’s validity or enforceability … may nevertheless bring a Walker Process antitrust claim that includes as one of its elements the need to show that the patent was procured through fraud.”
The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. The panel noted that the Supreme Court’s Walker Process opinion rejected an argument similar to the defendant’s that only parties with standing to challenge the validity of a patent have standing to assert the related antitrust claim. If the patent at issue was procured by fraud, then it would not be exempt from the Sherman and Clayton Acts, and therefore would be actionable by a direct purchaser who can otherwise prove antitrust standing. In fact, direct purchasers are preferred plaintiffs in Walker Process claims because they are most directly affected by the alleged fraud. Finally, the Federal Circuit found that the demanding proof requirements of a Walker Process claim would prevent a “flood of litigation” from parties not normally able to challenge a patent’s validity.
A copy of the opinion can be found here.