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Multidistrict Panel Transfers Patent Cases Pending in District Courts in Texas and Delaware to the District of Maryland Even Though No Cases Were Pending in Maryland

Defendants in two Eastern District of Texas actions moved to centralize their cases in the District of Delaware or in another transferee forum. Three actions involving the same plaintiff and patent were already pending in the District of Delaware. Two of the defendants in the Delaware actions supported the motion to transfer and centralize, while the other defendants in the Delaware actions did not oppose the motion. The patent holder opposed centralization and, alternatively, suggested selecting the Eastern District of Texas as the transferee forum.

The panel found that the five actions involved common questions of fact and that centralization would serve the convenience of the parties and witness and promote the just and efficient conduct of the litigation. To support this conclusion, the panel noted that all five actions involve factual question regarding the infringement and/or validity of a single patent that relates to basic web presentation technologies, such as “previews” that pop up when a mouse rolls over certain site features. The panel found that “[c]entralization will eliminate duplicative discovery, prevent inconsistent pretrial rulings (particularly on claim construction issues), and conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.”

The panel next determined that the District of Maryland was the appropriate transferee district for pretrial proceedings in the litigation. Noting that the panel is normally hesitant to centralize litigation in a district in which no action is pending, it found that the circumstances of these litigations justified doing so, particularly because the five actions were pending in two districts with large civil caseloads. “This patent litigation is pending in two federal district courts with large civil caseloads, and many of the actions in the Eastern District of Texas could have been filed elsewhere. The relative docket conditions in the District of Maryland are more favorable than the other proposed transferee forums. Additionally, the District of Maryland is near the District of Delaware–the district (preferred by several responding parties) where two declaratory judgment actions are pending and several accused infringers and [the patent holder] are incorporated.”

Accordingly, the panel determined that the convenience of the parties would be served by centralization “in this readily accessible transferee district.”

In re: Webvention LLC (‘294) Patent Litigation, MDL No. 2294 (Dec. 15, 2011)

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