U.S. District Court rejects theory of antitrust liability for patent infringement

On 5 December 2011 the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed Eatoni Ergonomics, Inc.’s (“Eatoni”) claims that Research in Motion Corporation and Research in Motion Ltd. (“RIM”) engaged in unlawful monopolization by, among other things, infringing Eatoni’s patent on a “Reduced QWERTY” keyboard and related software (Eatoni Ergonomics, Inc. v. Research in Motion Corp., Docket 08-Civ. 10079 (WHP) (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 5, 2011)).

Specifically, Eatoni alleged that RIM attempted to monopolize the “Reduced QWERTY” keyboard market by misappropriating Eatoni’s patent through a course of conduct that included, in particular, infringing Eatoni’s patent. The court refused to apply such a doctrine as it could not find any case in which patent infringement had been considered anti-competitive conduct. The court also held that, in any case, Eatoni did not plausibly allege that RIM’s patent infringement imposed such substantial costs or entry barriers that have been recognized in legal scholarship as factors that can facilitate the maintenance of monopoly power. The court also determined that provisions in Eatoni’s agreement with RIM to settle patent infringement claims precluded the related antitrust claim.

The court also dismissed Eatoni’s other antitrust claims against RIM. [Juha Vesala]