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Gunn v. Minton

(2013)

Supreme Court of the United States - 568 U.S. 251

tl;dr:

A hypothetical question of patent law does not qualify a case to be heard in federal court on the basis of federal question subject matter jurisdiction.

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Case Summary

In Gunn v. Minton (2013), the U.S. Supreme Court dealt with a legal malpractice case involving a patent holder and his former lawyer, focusing on whether federal or state courts had jurisdiction. Vernon Minton (plaintiff) claimed that his attorneys, including Jerry Gunn (defendants), failed to make a crucial argument in a patent infringement case, causing his patent to be invalidated. The defendants argued that the state court shouldn't handle the case since it involved federal patent law.

The state trial court and Texas Court of Appeals sided with Minton, although the Texas Supreme Court disagreed, pointing out that the malpractice claim involved applying patent law in a hypothetical situation. The defendants then appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court reversed the Texas Supreme Court's decision and determined that state courts could still have jurisdiction in Minton's case. The Court used the Grable test, which considers whether a state law claim involving federal law meets specific criteria, to reach this decision. While Minton's case met some criteria, the Court concluded that the federal question wasn't substantial enough to impact the entire federal system.

This case is significant because it highlights the limitations of federal jurisdiction over state claims involving federal issues. It demonstrates the balance between federal and state judicial systems and how the Grable test can be applied to various state law claims involving federal questions, such as legal malpractice cases stemming from patent litigation.

ICRAIssue, Conclusion, Rule, Analysis for Gunn v. Minton

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Facts & HoldingGunn v. Minton case brief facts & holding

Facts:In 1995, Minton leased some fintech (TEXCEN) he had developed...

Holding:Federal courts do not have exclusive jurisdiction over cases in...

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Majority opinion, author: Chief Justice Roberts
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The case involves a legal malpractice claim in a patent case where the plaintiff sued his former lawyers for failing to raise an experimental-use argument earlier, resulting in the patent being declared invalid. The plaintiff argued that the claim involved a substantial federal issue, but the Supreme Court of the United States concluded that the legal malpractice claim did not fall under federal patent law. State legal malpractice claims based on underlying patent matters will rarely arise under federal patent law for the purposes of § 1338(a). Federal courts can only exercise power granted by the Constitution and statute, and Congress must explicitly grant jurisdiction to federal courts. Congress has authorized federal district courts to exercise original jurisdiction over civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States, including those related to patents.

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