Stauffer v. Brooks Brothers

Intellectual Property

New York Law Journal


Judge Sidney Stein

Stauffer alleged Brook Brothers violated 35 USC §292 by marking products with numbers from expired patents. While suit was pending, Congress amended §292 in the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. The act eliminated the qui tam provision allowing private citizens to sue as relators for false patent marking, provided only that a competitor can seek compensatory damages, and clarified that marking a product with an expired patent number does not violate §292. Despite conceding that the amendment's retroactive applicability compelled dismissal because it eliminated his standing, Stauffer argued the amendment's retroactive application violated the Constitution's separation of powers. Discussing Brown v. Walker, United States v. Klein and Ex parte Garland, district court deemed "patently flawed" Stauffer's claim that retroactive application of the act usurped the president's pardon power. The separation of powers cases on which he relied dealt with acts of Congress negating the effects of a presidential pardon. Congress does not harm the Constitution's separation of powers when it limits the reach of a previously enacted statute and ceases delegating the standing of the government to private parties to act as qui tam relators.

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