Is it a Patent Case or a Legal Malpractice Action?

/ 08.Oct, 2012

The Supreme Court of the Untied States has granted certiorari to a Supreme Court of Texas case, Minton v. Gunn which addresses the federal court exclusivity for a legal malpractice action arising out of a patent case.  Legal malpractice is generally a state law tort claim, but the federal courts have jurisdiction over claims arising under the patent laws.  The question, therefore, is whether the legal malpractice action “arises under” the patent law.  The Supreme Court of Texas found that it did, and that the Texas courts lacked jurisdiction over the matter.  There are several cases, relied upon by the Supreme Court of Texas dissenters, which set forth the four elements necessary to establish federal jurisdiction, elements the dissenters assert were not addressed by the majority:

federal question jurisdiction exists where (1) resolving a federal issue is necessary to resolution of the state-law claim; (2) the federal issue is actually disputed; (3) the federal issue is substantial; and (4) federal jurisdiction will not disturb the balance of federal and state judicial responsibilities.

-Josh J.T. Byrne, Esquire