Ever wondered if you would infringe a patent but wanted to know before any infringement occurred?

Honeywell International, Inc. and Arkema Inc. are competitors in the field of automotive air-conditioning systems. Honeywell owns certain United States patents covering refrigerant inventions - in this case, innovations for a cooling system with low global warming potential. Arkema was about to enter into certain long-term supply contracts but before doing so, it wanted an advance ruling from the court, to determine whether such conduct would infringe the Honeywell patents. To achieve this, Arkema sought a declaratory judgment under the (US) Declaratory Judgment Act that by entering into contracts with automobile manufacturers, it would not incur liability as an “indirect infringer” of the Honeywell patents.

According to this latest decision, the US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that this situation created a controversy that was “sufficiently immediate” to access the relief under the (US) Declaratory Judgment Act.

Read this article from LES: Suppliers May Ask Courts to Rule that They Do Not Indirectly Infringe Patents when They Have Agreed to Supply an Allegedly Infringing Product Even Before Their Customers Have Had an Opportunity to Directly Infringe the Patents.

Thanks to Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, L.L.P. who have posted a link to the decision here.