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Filing a Lawsuit Can Waive a Sovereign Immunity Defense

On February 26, 2019, the Federal Circuit held that the filing of a lawsuit by a University against a private company can waive that
University’s sovereign immunity defense.See University of Florida Research Foundation, Inc. v. General Electric Company,No. 18-1284 (Fed.
Cir. Feb. 26, 2019).

In the District Court, the University of Florida sued GE for infringement of its ‘251 patent on a method and system for integrating“
physiologic data fromat least one bedside machine.” GE won a motion to dismiss asserting GE’s patent was invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101 because it was directed to ineligible subject matter

On appeal, the University of Florida’s patent litigation attorney argued its patent could not have been invalidated by the District Court, because the University enjoyed
sovereign immunity under the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution which deprived the District Court of jurisdiction. The Federal Circuit held that the University consented to jurisdiction by filing the lawsuit and, thus, waived any claim to sovereign immunity. After finding the lower court had jurisdiction, the Federal Circuit affirmed the invalidity finding.

It’s important to consult with a Houston business attorney before dealing with a complex patent infringement case; it can make a huge difference.

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