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General Electric Company v. Thomas Wilkins

February 11, 2011

GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
THOMAS WILKINS, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Oliver W. Wanger United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER (Doc. 125) GRANTING MOTION TO INTERVENE

I. INTRODUCTION.

Plaintiff General Electric Company("Plaintiff") brings this action against Defendant Thomas Wilkins ("Defendant") for damages and injunctive relief. According to Plaintiff's complaint, Plaintiff is a developer of energy technologies and the holder of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,921,985 ("'985 Patent") and 6,924,565, ("the'565 patent"). Defendant is listed as one of seven inventors of the '565 patent and asserts that he is an unnamed co-inventor of the '985 patent. Defendant asserts an ownership interest in both patents and has licensed his interest in the technology underlying the '985 patent to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., and Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas, Inc. (collectively "Mitsubishi").

Mitsubishi filed a motion to intervene pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24 on December 22, 2010. (Doc. 125).

Plaintiff filed opposition to the motion to intervene on January 10, 2011. (Doc. 142). Mitsubishi filed a reply on January 17, 2011. (Doc. 155). Defendant has not opposed the motion to intervene.

II. LEGAL STANDARD.

Intervention is governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24. To intervene as a matter of right under Rule 24(a)(2), an applicant must claim an interest, the protection of which may, as a practical matter, be impaired or impeded if the lawsuit proceeds without the applicant. Forest Conservation Council v. United States Forest Serv ., 66 F.3d 1489, 1493 (9th Cir. 1993). The Ninth Circuit applies Rule 24(a) liberally, in favor of intervention, and requires a district court to "take all well-pleaded, non-conclusory allegations in the motion as true absent sham, frivolity or other objections." Southwest Ctr. for Biological Diversity v. Berg , 268 F.3d 810, 820 (9th Cir. 2001). A four part test is used to evaluate a motion for intervention of right:

(1) the motion must be timely;

(2) the applicant must claim a "significantly protectable" interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action;

(3) the applicant must be so situated that the disposition of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede its ability to protect that interest; and

(4) the applicant's interest must be inadequately represented by the parties to the action.

Forest Conservation Council , 66 F.3d at 1493.

Permissive intervention is governed by Rule 24(b). An applicant who seeks permissive intervention must demonstrate that it meets three threshold requirements: (1) it shares a common question of law or fact with the main action; (2) its motion is timely; and (3) the court has an independent basis for jurisdiction over the ...


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