Alexandra G. White likes patents.
The Federal Circuit said in Akazawa v. Link New Technology Int'l, Inc., 520 F.3d 1354 (Fed. Cir. 2008), that state law decides who owns a federal patent. Unless Party X assigned the patent to Party Y. Then federal law controls. Of course.
Anyway, a case the court ruled on today raised the question of whether a foreclosure sale passed ownership of patents to the buyer. By operation of law — state law — you see. If it did, the buyer could — and did — convey the patent to the party that sued for infringement.
The court held that a lender's purchase of a debtor's patents in a foreclosure auction that complied with Commonwealth of Massachusetts law made the lender the owner of the patents for purposes of standing to sue for infringement. The court thus sent the case back to the Eastern District of Texas for trial. Sky Technologies LLC v. SAP AG, No. 08-1606 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 20, 2009).