Remember that case I posted on yesterday where the two defendants were seeking a severance, and the court denied it, subject to addressing the issue at the pretrial conference? Well, this is a different case in which the same plaintiff sued a number of other defendants, but in separate actions this time, and sought an order consolidating all of these actions for a single trial.
Plaintiff Chrimar argued that consolidation for trial was appropriate because all of its claims are related to the same IEEE standard, all Defendants’ accused products allegedly comply with the standard, some Defendants sell products sold by another Defendant, the accused products are all similar, some Defendants have overlapping subcomponents, the damages period for each Defendant is the same, Defendants share certain experts, and Defendants share overlapping defenses and counterclaims.
Judge Love denied the motion, concluding that while the question of whether the claims of Chrimar’s asserted patents read onto that standard would be uniform across the various cases, the key question under 35 USC § 299 of whether Defendants’ accused products comply with that standard will inevitably vary unless the Defendants share the same accused products. And on this crucial point while Chrimar pointed to some alleged shared subcomponents, such as PoE
controllers shared across certain Defendants, it did not identify any uniform thread across all Defendants that would warrant combining all seven cases for a single trial. Judge Love concluded by returning the question to the statute's language:
"Ultimately, none of the similarities pointed to by Chrimar are sufficient to pass the transaction and occurrence test set forth in § 299(a). While there will be some overlap as to certain defenses and witnesses, the actual questions of infringement and the amount of damages (both the appropriate royalty rate and base) are indisputably different among the Defendants. For these reasons, the Court finds that Chrimar has failed to show that joinder is proper under § 299.
Moreover, the Court finds that the similarities pointed to by Chrimar do warrant any special circumstances to consolidate all the Defendants for a single trial under the Court’s discretionary authority.