• February 13, 2014

There can be no dispute that Faegre Baker Daniels lawyers are preeminent complex civil litigation lawyers in the Twin Cities. They have been for many years. This is why the dismissal, this past week, of the lawsuit they brought on behalf of their client, 3M, seems anomalous.

In 2010, 3M sued Andover for copyright infringement, trade dress infringement, false  advertising, and violations of Minnesota, consumer protection statutes in connection with Andover’s compression wrap bandage products. They settled that lawsuit in June, 2010 and agreed that any disputes arising out of that settlement agreement would be resolved in a Minnesota court. They specifically agreed that the settlement did not apply to claims arising after the settlement agreement’s effective date.

Then Andover sued 3M in Delaware for patent infringement last May, claiming that 3M has been infringing on an Andover patent since June 3, 2010 (which just happens to be the day after the “effective date” in the above-referenced settlement agreement).

U.S. District Court Judge Ann D. Montgomery (D. Minn.) held:

3M’s argument is an attempt to manufacture a dispute under the Settlement Agreement where none exists. 3M’s position lacks any support from the plain text of the Settlement Agreement’s release provision, which clearly releases past claims arising prior to the Effective Date, as opposed to products existing as of that date. The release provision states: ‘[E]ach Party specifically releases . . . the other Party . . . from any and all past claims, damages, demands, actions, liabilities and causes of actions . . . related to the Parties’ respective compression products arising prior to the Effective Date.’ Settlement Agreement ¶ 6 (emphasis added [by the Court]). 3M’s argument is also squarely contradicted by the final sentence of the release provision, which explicitly excludes claims arising after the Effective Date from the scope of the release: ‘The Parties each acknowledge and agree that this release does not extend to claims, demands, actions, liabilities, or causes of action arising after the Effective Date of this Agreement.’

I am not in a position to second-guess the wisdom (or the strategy) of the decision to try to get the Delaware patent action tossed out in favor of a later-filed Minnesota action based on the June 2010 Settlement Agreement. There may have been strategic angles that I have no way of knowing.

It is nonetheless surprising when the court finds that one of our local legal big guns has fired far wide of their target.

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