The United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously that when a licensee seeks a declaratory judgment against a patentee that its products do not infringe the licensed patent, the patentee bears the burden of persuasion on the issue of infringement. Medtronic, Inc. v. Mirowski Family Ventures, LLC. Respondent owns patents relating to implantable heart stimulators and a licensing agreement permits Medtronic to practice certain Mirowski patents in exchange of royalty. Mirowski notified Medtronic that several products infringed the licensed patents and Medtronic filed a DJ action. The district court concluded that Mirowski had the burden of proving infringement and failed to meet that burden. On appeal, the Federal Circuit held that where the patentee is a DJ defendant and is foreclosed from asserting an infringement counterclaim due to a licensing agreement, the party seeking a declaratory judgment bears the burden of persuasion. Reversing the Federal Circuit's decision, the Court held that the burden of proof is a substantive aspect of a claim that cannot be changed by the form of the action. Full text of the opinion is available here.
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