Multidistrict Panel Denies Transfer in Patent Infringement Action Involving Multiple Defendants and Patents in Different District Courts

December 26, 2011

Plaintiffs asserted patents relating to computer-based messaging products and services against numerous defendants, including Facebook, LinkedIn, E*Trade and Verizon in two different district courts. The patents at issue named Charles Bobo as an inventor and one of the earlier patents in the Bobo family of patents was asserted in six of the actions pending in the Central District of California. Five later-issued patents in the Bobo family were asserted in actions in the Eastern District of Texas.

The panel considered whether centralization in one district would serve the convenience of the parties and witnesses or further the just and efficient conduct of the litigation. Many of the defendants supported centralization, while Verizon opposed centralization. The plaintiffs opposed the motion to centralize the cases.

The two actions in the Eastern District of Texas involved patents, defendants and a plaintiff different from those in the actions pending in the Central District of California and the case in each district were in different stages. In addition, the actions pending in the Central District of California included patents that were not part of the same patent family. Based on these differences, the panel did not believe centralization was appropriate. "Although the patents at issue in the Eastern District of Texas action are in the same family as the patents\ at issue in the Central District of California actions, the proponents of centralization have not convinced us that there is enough commonality to make centralization necessary or even advantageous."

Thus, the fact that different patents and were at issue in the district courts with different plaintiffs was sufficient to deny centralization even though the action pending in the Central District of California overlapped with the patents at issue in the Eastern District of Texas.

In re Charles R. Bobo Patent Litigation, MDL No. 2297 (Dec. 15, 2011)

The authors of www.PatentLawyerBlog.com are patent trial lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. We represent inventors, patent owners and technology companies in patent licensing and litigation. Whether pursuing patent violations or defending infringement claims, we are aggressive and effective advocates for our clients. For more information contact Stan Gibson at 310.201.3548 or SGibson@jmbm.com.