Quimbee logo
DMCA.com Protection Status
From our private database of 16,500+ case briefs...

Unitherm Food Sys., Inc. v. Swift-Eckrich, Inc.

United States Supreme Court
546 U.S. 394 (2006)

Unitherm Food Sys., Inc. v. Swift-Eckrich, Inc.


ConAgra (defendant) patented a process invented by Unitherm Food Systems, Inc. (Unitherm) (plaintiff). Jennie-O, a purchaser, and Unitherm sued ConAgra in the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma for patent and antitrust violations. Jennie-O was dismissed for lack of standing. At the close of evidence, ConAgra requested a directed verdict, which was denied. The jury found for Unitherm, and ConAgra did not renew its motion for judgment as a matter of law or request a new trial. ConAgra appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. That court found that the sufficiency of the evidence could not be reviewed due to ConAgra’s failure to make a post-verdict motion for relief. Nevertheless, the prevailing rule in the tenth circuit allowed appellate review without a postverdict motion if the party moved for judgment as a matter of law before the case went to the jury. Cummings v. General Motors Corp., 365 F.3d 944 (2004). The appellate court held that there was proof that the patent was fraudulent but insufficient evidence of the antitrust claim. The jury verdict was vacated and the case remanded for a new trial. Unitherm petitioned the United States Supreme Court for certiorari, which was granted.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Thomas, J.)

Dissent (Stevens, J.)

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 410,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 16,500 briefs, keyed to 223 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.

Questions & Answers

Have a question about this case?

Sign up for a free 7-day trial and ask it

Sign up for a FREE 7-day trial