NeoroRepair, Inc. v. Nath Law Grp., No. 13-1073 (Fed. Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
In 2005, NeuroRepair retained Nath Law Group for prosecution of patent applications. NeuroRepair became dissatisfied and requested that Nath transfer its files to another law firm to continue prosecution before the USPTO. Nath withdrew from representation of NeuroRepair before the USPTO, but continued to assist NeuroRepair with other matters. NeuroRepair filed suit in 2009, alleging professional negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of written contract, breach of oral contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, negligent misrepresentation, and false promise. Nath removed the case to federal court on the ground that it was “a civil action relating to patents.” After judgment in Nath’s favor in 2012, NeuroRepair appealed, challenging the court’s subject matter jurisdiction in light of the Supreme Court’s 2013 pronouncement in Gunn v. Minto. The Federal Circuit vacated, with instructions to remand to California state court; no federal issue is necessarily raised, because any federal issues raised are not substantial in the relevant sense. Federal court resolution of malpractice claims that do not raise substantial issues of federal law would usurp the important role of state courts in regulating the practice of law within their boundaries, disrupting the federal-state balance approved by Congress.