Altvater v. Freeman

In Altvater v. Freeman, 319 U.S. 359, 63 S.Ct. 1115, 87 L.Ed. 1450, 57 USPQ 285 (1943), the Supreme Court stated the following: To hold a patent valid if it is not infringed is to decide a hypothetical case. But the situation in the present case is quite different. We have here not only bill and answer but a counterclaim. Though the decision of non-infringement disposes of the bill and answer, it does not dispose of the counterclaim which raises the question of validity.... The issue of validity may be raised by a counterclaim in an infringement suit.... We are of the view that the issues raised by the present counterclaim were justiciable and that the controversy between the parties did not come to an end on the dismissal of the bill for non-infringement, since their dispute went beyond the single claim and the particular accused devices involved in that suit. (Id. at 363-64, 63 S.Ct. at 1117-18, 57 USPQ at 288.) Under the facts of Altwater, it was clear to the Supreme Court that--a controversy was raging, even apart from the continued license agreement. That controversy was "definite and concrete, touching the legal relations of parties having adverse legal interests." That controversy concerned the validity of the reissue patents. Those patents had many claims in addition to the single one involved in the issue of infringement. And petitioners were manufacturing and selling additional articles claimed to fall under the patents. Royalties were being demanded and royalties were being paid. But they were being paid under protest and under the compulsion of an injunction decree. It was to lift the heavy hand of that tribute from the business that the counterclaim was filed. (Id. at 364-65, 63 S.Ct. at 1118, 57 USPQ at 288-89.)