Judge Sends Vermont’s Lawsuit Against MPHJ Technology back to State Court

scales of justice 2InsideCounsel.com reports that a U.S. District Court judge has remanded the state of Vermont’s case against MPHJ Technology Investments back to state court.

Vermont’s Attorney General Bill Sorrell has alleged that MPHJ Technology Investments sent unfair and deceptive demand letters to small businesses and non-profit organizations in Vermont, claiming patent violations. The attorney general also claims MPHJ’s activities violate the Vermont Consumer Protection Act, which prohibits unfair and deceptive acts and practices in commerce in Vermont. The attorney general’s office seeks to levy civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation on MPHJ, and prohibit it from sending out demand letters in Vermont.

MPHJ’s law firms have sent out thousands of demand letter throughout the United States, typically to small businesses, alleging that use of MFPs’ scan to email infringes on patents owned by MPHJ. The law firms hired by MPHJ typically demand about $1,000 per employee for the alleged infringements, threatening lawsuits if the businesses don’t comply.

For its part, MPHJ wants the case dismissed for “lack of personal jurisdiction.”

In the latest action, U.S. District Court Judge William K. Sessions ruled that Vermont’s case against MPHJ should not have been filed in federal court, and remanded the case to the Washington Superior Court in Vermont. According to the judge’s ruling, MPHJ is a limited liability company that operates in Vermont through 40 wholly owned shell subsidiary companies.