A California federal court has dismissed on jurisdictional grounds Quest Nutrition LLC’s lawsuit against Louisiana State University Agricultural Center accusing the school of filing a patent for a sweetener using Quest’s confidential information. Quest Nutrition LLC v. Bd. of Supervisors of LSU Agric. & Mech. Coll., No. 14-2005 (U.S. Dist. Ct., C.D. Cal., order entered July 8, 2014). The court ruled that the majority of Quest’s claims—including those for unfair competition and breach of contract—arose under state law so the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction, and the court held that state courts and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have subject matter jurisdiction over Quest’s patent claims.
Quest hired LSU Agricultural Center in 2013 to test a potentially new sweetener and bound the information by a confidentiality agreement. The company alleged that the university succeeded in identifying the formula for the sweetener and filed a patent application with the information that did not list Quest as an inventor. The court dismissed the patent claim without leave to amend and dismissed the competition and contract claims with leave to amend.