Tag Archives: Japan

Case of the Day: SiOnyx v. Hamamatsu Photonics

The case of the day is SiOnyx LLC v. Hamamatsu Photonics K.K. (D. Mass. 2016). SiOnyx and the President and Fellows of Harvard College brought an action against Hamamatsu Photonics, a Japanese corporation, and its American subsidiary, Hamamatsu Corp., and others. The plaintiffs effected service on Hamamatsu Corp., but they conceded that they had not directly effected service on Hamamatsu Photonics. Instead, they asserted that service on the subsidiary was effective as service on the parent, because the subsidiary was the parent’s “managing or general agent,” and thus the service was effective under Mass. R. Civ. P. 4(d)(2). It’s unclear to me, by the way, why the parties focused on Mass. R. Civ. P. 4 instead of Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(h)(1)(B), which also has a managing or general agent provision. The Massachusetts rule is incorporated by reference into the federal only if the service is to be made in the United States; but if the service is to be made in the United States, why not rely instead, or in addition, in the federal rule for domestic service? Perhaps there is some difference in how the federal cases and the Massachusetts cases define a managing or general agent, but if so, I don’t know offhand what it is. In any event, the plaintiffs also sought a preliminary injunction against the Japanese defendant.
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Case of the Day: Akebia Therapeutics v. Fibrogen

The case of the day is Akebia Therapeutics, Inc. v. Fibrogen, Inc. (9th Cir. 2015). Fibrogen, a San Francisco biotech company, owns European and Japanese patents on the use of certain chemical compounds to treat anemia. Akeiba, a competitor, brought opposition proceedings in the European Patent Office and the Japanese Patent Office, asserting that the patents are invalid. Akeiba brought an application under § 1782 seeking leave to serve subpoenas for documents and testimony on Fibrogen. The judge granted the application ex parte, and Fibrogen appealed.
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Case of the Day: South Carolina v. Hitachi Displays, Ltd.

The case of the day is South Carolina v. Hitachi Displays, Ltd. (D.S.C. 2013). South Carolina sued Epson Imaging Devices Corp., a Japanese company, for conspiring to fix prices on thin film transistor-liquid crystal display panels. The case had been stayed pending resolution of a petition for certiorari in the Supreme Court. The state asked Epson’s US counsel to accept service by email, but he refused. It then sought to serve Epson in Japan via the Japanese central authority, but its request apparently used an old address for Epson, and the central authority could not effect service.

South Carolina then sought leave under FRCP 4(f)(3) to make service on Epson via its US counsel. The judge denied the motion. For the most part, this seems a permissible exercise of the judge’s discretion, even if it would also have been permissible and probably advisable to allow the state to make service by alternative means: the judge found that Epson’s correct address was readily obtainable, and that because of the stay South Carolina had adequate time to effect service via the Japanese central authority. The only sour note is the judge’s characterization of service on US counsel as “improper.” I think this has the potential to mislead. Service on US counsel wouldn’t be improper; but that doesn’t mean the judge had to permit it.