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Yufa v. Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

January 9, 2015



MARIA-ELENA JAMES, Magistrate Judge.


In this patent infringement case, Plaintiff Aleksander L. Yufa alleges that Defendant Lighthouse Worldwide Solutions, Inc. infringed upon his patent for particle detectors and reference voltage comparators (the "983 Patent").[1] Pending before the Court is Defendant's Motion to Stay. Dkt. No. 132. Defendant requests a stay until four of Plaintiff's other cases involving the 983 Patent, which are currently on appeal, are finally adjudicated.[2] Id. at 2. It argues that those four cases involve the same legal issue at the heart of its defense in this case: whether a court could find that a particle detector with a reference voltage infringes a patent which specifically disclaims the use of a reference voltage. Defendant maintains that a stay will save the parties and Court time and money, while a refusal to stay will cost Defendant substantial fees and costs to prepare a Motion for Summary Judgment or trial and subsequent appeals. Id.

Plaintiff opposes the Motion, arguing that the other 983 Patent cases "are absolutely irrelevant to this case based on the fact[ ] that they are for different products of the different particle detectors manufacturers." Opp'n at 5, Dkt. No. 133. The Court finds this matter suitable for disposition without oral argument and VACATES the January 29, 2015 hearing. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b); Civil L.R. 7-1(b).


"A district court has the inherent power to stay its proceedings. This power to stay is incidental to the power inherent in every court to control the disposition of the causes on its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants.'" Fuller v. Amerigas Propane, Inc., 2009 WL 2390358, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 3, 2009) (quoting Rivers v. Walt Disney Co., 980 F.Supp. 1358, 1360 (C.D. Cal. 1997)). In considering whether a stay is appropriate, the Court should weigh three factors: "[1] the possible damage which may result from the granting of a stay, [2] the hardship or inequity which a party may suffer in being required to go forward, and [3] the orderly course of justice measured in terms of the simplifying or complicating of issues, proof, and questions of law which could be expected to result from a stay." Id. (quoting CMAX, Inc. v. Hall, 300 F.2d 265, 268 (9th Cir. 1962) (citing Landis v. N. Am. Co., 99 U.S. 248, 254-55 (1936))). If there is "even a fair possibility" of harm to the opposing party, the moving party "must make out a clear case of hardship or inequity in being required to go forward." Landis, 299 U.S. at 255; Lockyer v. Mirant Corp., 398 F.3d 1098, 1109 (9th Cir. 2005).


Having reviewed the parties' positions, the Court finds that good causes exists to stay these proceedings. This case was previously stayed for approximately three years, from August 4, 2009 until October 15, 2012, due to the reexamination of the 983 Patent. Dkt. Nos. 42, 78. On December 12, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Second Amended Complaint asserting the claims that remained after reexamination. Dkt. No. 83. The only remaining claim was amended to include the text "without using a reference voltage to convert each of said voltage value signals." Despite Plaintiff's argument that different products are involved in his other cases, the same legal issue in this case with respect to the scope of the 983 Patent is currently before the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, based on four district courts separately finding that four different defendant's respective particle detectors did not infringe Plaintiff's patents because the particle detectors had a reference voltage. Kanach Decl., ΒΆ13, Dkt. No. 132-1. These cases are:

(1) Yufa v. Hach Ultra Analytics, Inc., (D. Or.), 1:09-cv-03022 PA, filed: 2009;
(2) Yufa v. TSI, Inc., (N.D. Cal.), 4:09-cv-01315 KAW, filed: 2009;
(3) Yufa v. TSI, Inc., (C.D. Cal.), 8:12-cv-01614 FMO (JCGx), filed: 2012; and
(4) Yufa v. Lockheed Martin Corp., (C.D. Cal.), 2:06-cv-03923 BRO (FFMx), filed: 2006.

In the Lockheed Martin case, the Federal Circuit affirmed the district court's order granting Lockheed Martin's motion for summary judgment, and Plaintiff has a pending writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. Id., Exs. A-C. As the outcome of the Federal Circuit's pending decisions will likely influence the claims in this case, and possibly create an opportunity for settlement or dismissal, both parties may suffer unnecessary hardship or inequity if required to go forward. Further, a stay will not prejudice Plaintiff as no trial has been set in this case and he may continue to pursue the four cases on appeal.


In summary, having considered the factors necessary for a stay and balancing the competing interests which will be affected, the Court concludes it would best serve the interests of the parties and judicial economy to stay this case. Accordingly, Defendant's Motion to Stay these proceedings is GRANTED.

The Clerk of Court shall administratively close the case file. Upon final adjudication and resolution of the four cases on appeal, Plaintiff may file a request that the Court lift the stay in this matter.


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