Chrimar v. Adtran, et al. is a patent infringement case involving two defendants. It is not case in which the plaintiff filed separate actions against defendants based on infringement, but one in which from the outset the plaintiff asserted claims against two unrelated defendants in the same action.
At the outset of the case the defendants did not raise any misjoinder or severance issues, but instead jointly moved to transfer to the Northern District of California. However, two months before trial defendants filed a motion to sever, raising the relatively rarely considered issue of whether joinder was proper under 35 USC section 299, which provides a special rule for joinder in the patent infringement context. Joinder in other cases is determined pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(2), which is a kissing cousin to 299. Well, perhaps the better metaphor might be the twins in Disney movies where one is studious and uptight and the other has an English accent and is looking for excitement. But not too much. It's that kind of statute. Sort of the 1998 Lindsay Lohan of the patent infringement statutory scheme. (Personally, my household preferred Herbie, but Parent Trap was good as well).
Anyway, on October 25, Judge Love denied the motion, finding that the requirements of both the rule and the statute were met because both defendants were accused of infringement based on the sale of some of the same products – not just because they were both accused of infringing the same patent. "At a minimum, common questions of infringement exist as to both Dell and Aerohive with respect to the shared accused products," the Court wrote.
Judge Love further found that even if joinder were improper under 299, the limitations of that statute were waived under 299(c) by the defendants' affirmative representations made in asking jointly that the case be transferred to the Northern District of California. Nonetheless, the Court indicated that it would discuss appropriate streamlined trial plan for the trial of the case based on the issues raised in the motion at the upcoming pretrial conference. (The pretrial conference is December 5, so we do not yet know what the trial plan will be, assuming both defendants are still in the case at trial).
The defendants immediately filed a motion for reconsideration which Judge Love denied this past Friday, finding that the defendants had not shown that the stringent requirements for reconsideration had been met.