Christianson v. Colt Industries Operating Corp.


Question(s) Presented

1. “[Whether] the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ha[d] jurisdiction of the appeal from the district court judgment entered on July 19, 1985.” 2. “Whether a U.S. Court of Appeals may rule on the merits of an appeal when it expressly rules that it does not have subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to statute.”


1. “[T]he jurisdictional issue before us turns on whether this is a case ‘arising under’ a federal patent statute, for if it is then the jurisdiction of the District Court was based at least ‘in part’ on [28 U.S.C.] § 1338. . . . [Section] 1338 jurisdiction . . . extend[s] only to those cases in which a well-pleaded complaint establishes either that federal patent law creates the cause of action or that the plaintiff’s right to relief necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial question of federal patent law, in that patent law is a necessary element of one of the well-pleaded claims. . . . Framed in these terms, our resolution of the jurisdictional issue in this case is straightforward. Petitioners’ antitrust count can readily be understood to encompass both a monopolization claim under § 2 of the Sherman Act and a group-boycott claim under § 1. The patent-law issue, while arguably necessary to at least one theory under each claim, is not necessary to the overall success of either claim.” 2. “Our agreement with the Federal Circuit’s conclusion that it lacked jurisdiction, compels us to disapprove of its decision to reach the merits anyway ‘in the interest of justice.’”