In a recent ruling by the Federal Circuit it expanded the class of individuals or Plaintiffs for Walker Process Claims. Typically, these types of claims are asserted by Defendants that are sued for patent infringement as a counterclaim.
However, the Federal Circuit stated that direct purchasers that were not liable for patent infringement or subject to claims by the Patent owner were allowed to assert Walker Process Antitrust claims. Even if, the direct purchaser was not entitled to seek declaratory relief relating to patent non-infringement or invalidity, they are permitted to assert Walker Process Antitrust claims against the patent owner.
Thus, a new class of claimants that purchase products from licensees or further down the distribution channel will be able to assert infringement claims against the Patentee. In the pharmaceutical case, this may be patients, doctors, pharmacists or hospitals that may get tired of paying the high cost of drugs. In the case of blocking patents that cover technology used in variety of industry segments now there can be class Plaintiffs alleging Walker Process claims.
However, it remains to be seen, whether class certification would be granted for Walker Process claims. To read more see: Ritz Camera v. SanDisk Corporation