Gordon-Darby Sys., Inc. v. Applus Techs., Inc., No. 10 C 1863, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Dec. 23, 2010) (Zagel, J.).
Judge Zagel granted plaintiff's motion to dismiss its patent infringement claims regarding vehicle emissions testing with prejudice and to dismiss defendants' noninfringement, invalidity and unenforceability claims without prejudice. After the parties engaged in some discovery, plaintiff determined that it no longer wanted to pursue its claims and gave defendants a covenant not to sue. Based upon that covenant, the parties agreed that all of their claims should be dismissed, except for defendants' inequitable conduct claims. Defendants argued that those claims were related to its 35 U.S.C. Section § 285 claim to make the case exceptional and award defendants their attorney's fees. Citing the Federal Circuit's decision in Monsanto Co. v. Bayer Bioscience N.V., 514 F.3d 1229 (Fed. Cir. 2008), the Court held that, although the Federal Circuit had not squarely decided the issue, the precedent was clear that the covenant divested the Court of subject matter jurisdiction over the inequitable conduct declamatory judgment claim.
The Court, however, retained independent jurisdiction over defendants' Section § 285 claim to make the case exceptional and award defendants their attorney's fees. And the Court acknowledged that it could consider unenforceability as part of the exceptional case analysis, which could trigger a holding that the patents in suit were unenforceable due to inequitable conduct.