Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts


Jeffrey Bashaw


In Aspex Eyewear v. Miracle Optics, a patent infringement claim was initially dismissed because the court found that the parties bringing suit, a patentee and a patent sub-licensee, lacked standing because although the patentee had given all substantial rights to a licensee, the sub-licensee’s license did not convey “all substantial rights.” Thus, neither party had “all substantial rights,” the traditional threshold test for patent licensee standing. While the Federal Circuit ultimately reversed and allowed the suit to go forward, the case demonstrates how the current patent standing rule only magnifies the expense of litigating an infringement suit by requiring additional resources for debating “all substantial rights.” This Article analyzes the current standing rules for licensees of intellectual property under the various federal intellectual property statutes. In general, exclusive licensees have standing to sue, either alone or by joining the licensor. Although the fundamental motivation for this rule is sound, the rule can be unnecessarily rigid as applied and can prevent licensing arrangements from reflecting the intent of the parties. This article will also analyze FRCP 19’s approach, which provides a more flexible and predictable rule.

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