Vermont v. MPHJ Tech: Fed. Cir. Lacks Appellate Jurisdiction on District Court's Remand to State Court

Category: Civil Procedure 
 By: Christian Hannon, Contributor 
TitleVermont v. MPHJ Tech. Invs., No. 2014-1481 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 7, 2014).
IssueMPHJ Technology Investments, LLC (“MPHJ”) petitions this court for a writ of mandamus, and also appeals from an order of the United States District Court for the District of Vermont remanding this case to state court.
MPHJ Tech. Invs., at *2.
HoldingBecause we lack jurisdiction to grant the requested relief, we dismiss the petition and appeal.
Id. at *2.
Prodecural HistoryMPHJ appeals the remand to state court, and has filed a petition for a writ of mandamus.
MPHJ Tech. Invs., at *3.
Legal Reasoning (Prost, Newman, Hughes)
MPHJ's Business PracticeMPHJ owns several patents relating to network scanner systems. MPHJ through subsidiary licensees wrote to various business and non-profit organizations operating in Vermont, requesting the recipient to confirm it was not infringing MPHJ’s patents or, alternatively, to purchase a license. If the offeror did not receive a response, a Texas law firm sent follow-up correspondence stating that an infringement suit would be filed.
MPHJ Tech. Invs., at *2.
Vermont Suit Against MPHJ for Unfair Trade Practices[T]he State of Vermont [...] filed suit against MPHJ in Vermont state court. The State alleged MPHJ engaged in unfair and deceptive trade practices under the Vermont Consumer Protection Act [...].The State filed this case seeking [...] relief under state law. MPHJ removed the case to the United States District Court [...] asserting federal question jurisdiction and diversity jurisdiction. The State moved to remand the case back to state court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. MPHJ opposed the State’s motion to remand, and filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and a motion for sanctions under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and 28 U.S.C. § 1927. The sanctions motion also requested dismissal, asserting that the State’s complaint was frivolous, that the complaint failed to plead that the alleged conduct was both objectively and subjectively baseless,and also that the complaint was preempted by MPHJ’s right to enforce its patents.
Id. at *2.
District Court Decision[T]he district court granted the State’s motion to remand. The district court stated that the complaint did not raise a substantial question of patent law, and that “the State is targeting bad faith conduct irrespective of whether the letter recipients were patent infringers” or the patents were invalid. The court pointed out that MPHJ’s preemption assertion was a defense to its allegedly unfair and deceptive practices,and that a defense cannot provide a basis for federal subject matter jurisdiction.
Id. at *3 (internal citations omitted).
Federal Circuit's Appellate Jurisdiction
Appellate Jurisdiction and 28 U.S.C. § 1447[The Supreme Court of the United States has] relentlessly repeated that any remand order issued on the grounds specfied in § 1447(c) is immunized from all forms of appellate review. Here the district court remanded on a ground provided in § 1447(c); that is, in the district court's veiw the complaint did not raise a claim or question of federal law to give rise to federal jurisdiction. Section 1447(d) precludes this court from second-guessing the district court's jurisdiction determination regarding subject matter. [...] Here, the district court repeatedly stated the position that the Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction. We therefore lack jurisdiction to review the remand decision.
MPHJ Tech. Invs., at *4-5 (internal quotations omitted).
IT IS ORDERED THAT: (1) The State of Vermont’s motion to dismiss is granted. The petition and appeal are dismissed. (2) Each side shall bear its costs.[...].
MPHJ Tech. Invs., at *5.


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