In patent disputes, it’s the patent holder—not the accused infringer—who must always bear the burden of proof. That’s true even when the parties had struck a licensing deal in the past, the US Supreme Court made clear in a ruling published today.
The case decided was Medtronic, Inc. v. Mirowski Family Ventures. Michel Mirowski and co-inventor Morton Mower were pioneers in the area of implantable heart-stimulation devices (pacemakers). Medtronic paid royalties to Mirowski for some of its products, harking back to its first licensing deal in 1991. But the company said a new generation of devices didn’t infringe, and it resisted paying for additional patents Mirowski had acquired in 2003 and 2007.
Mirowski, no surprise, disagreed.
The two parties went to court, with Medtronic firing the first shot: a so-called “declaratory judgment” lawsuit saying that it didn’t infringe Mirowski’s patents.