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Golden Bridge Technology, Inc v. Apple Inc.

September 11, 2012

GOLDEN BRIDGE TECHNOLOGY, INC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
APPLE INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Otis D. Wright, II United States District Judge

O JS-6

ORDER GRANTING IN PART MOTIONS TO SEVER AND TRANSFER [136], [143], [154], [155]

Four motions to sever and transfer are pending before the Court. (ECF. Nos. 136, 143, 154, 155.) Defendants contend that newly enacted statute, 35 U.S.C. § 299, expressly prohibits joinder of unrelated defendants on the basis that they have all infringed the patent-in-suit, a tactic frequently used by non-practicing entities.*fn1

Plaintiff Golden Bridge Technology, Inc. ("GBT") argues that joinder is proper because the Defendants all use the same-or essentially the same-baseband processors; therefore, they infringe the patent-in-suit in the same manner, and the same set of operative facts pervades among the Defendants. Depending on the Court's position on severance, Defendants also move to transfer their cases under 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) for forum non conveniens. For the following reasons, the Court GRANTS-IN-PART Defendants' motions.

I.BACKGROUND

GBT brought suit against numerous Defendants, for infringement of United States Patent No. 6,075,793, titled High Efficiency Spread Spectrum System and Method. The '793 Patent claims a multichannel-spread-sprectrum system for communicating multiple data-sequence signals from multiple data channels. In this action, GBT joined and grouped certain Defendants having parent and subsidiary relationships. But GBT also joined all Defendants together alleging that all of the Defendants' accused products use "one of two common baseband processors designed and manufactured by Intel Corporation (formerly Infineon Corporation) and Qualcomm, Inc. to practice the claimed inventions." (FAC ¶ 41.) Four Defendants- Motorola Mobility LLC, Amazon.com, Inc., Dell, Inc., and Apple Inc.-dispute the propriety of the latter joinder. Further, these four Defendants contend that the Central District of California is an inconvenient forum and seek transfers to more convenient venues, if the Court grants severance.

II.SEVERANCE

Although joinder is normally governed by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20, joinder in patent cases is different. Newly enacted statute, 35 U.S.C. § 299, requires a higher standard for joinder, and prohibits joinder unless the relief arises out of the same transactions relating to infringement of the patent-in-suit by the same accused product:

(a) Joinder of Accused Infringers.- With respect to any civil action arising under any Act of Congress relating to patents, other than an action or trial in which an act of infringement under section 271(e)(2) has been pled, parties that are accused infringers may be joined in one action as defendants or counterclaim defendants, or have their actions consolidated for trial, or counterclaim defendants only if-

(1) any right to relief is asserted against the parties jointly, severally, or in the alternative with respect to or arising out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences relating to the making, using, importing into the United States, offering for sale, or selling of the same accused product or process; and

(2) questions of fact common to all defendants or counterclaim defendants will arise in the action.

(b) Allegations Insufficient for Joinder.- For purposes of this subsection, accused infringers may not be joined in one action as defendants or counterclaim defendants, or have their actions consolidated for trial, based solely on allegations that they each have infringed the patent or patents in suit.

(c) Waiver.- A party that is an accused infringer may waive the limitations set forth in this section ...


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