Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation et al v. Hilti, Inc., 2-14-cv-01288 (WIED April 27, 2015, Order) (Stadtmueller, J.)
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Law Firm’s Concurrent Representation of Accused Infringer and Patent Owner in Multiple Related Cases No Basis for Disqualification
The court denied a nonparty's motion to intervene and disqualify one of the law firms representing plaintiff where the nonparty was a current client of that law firm and a defendant in one of eight related lawsuits initiated by plaintiff. "The parties do not dispute that [the nonparty] is a current client of [the law firm]. And, [the nonparty] recognizes that [the law firm] is not representing the plaintiffs in the [case against the nonparty]. . . . Thus, the issue before the Court is whether there exists direct adversity between [the nonparty] and the plaintiffs’ positions in the related cases. . . . [A]lthough this is a close question, the Court finds no direct adversity . . . [T]here is no evidence here that [plaintiffs' counsel] has participated in any motion brought by [plaintiffs] against [the nonparty] or opposed any motion brought by [the nonparty] against [plaintiffs]. . . . [The nonparty] argues that . . . the unique timing in this case — the filing of eight lawsuits, on the same day in the same court, and on the same patents — creates direct adversity. The Court readily recognizes this distinction and agrees that these factors present a much closer call than previous cases. However, the Court declines to find that the coordination of these cases, even on these facts, is dispositive in a finding of direct adversity. . . . [The nonparty's] products are not at issue in the related [cases in which the law firm represents plaintiffs] and the plaintiffs do not allege that the defendants’ products infringe because they comply with a technical industry standard. Moreover, there is no evidence that [counsel] has performed any substantive legal work for [the nonparty] with respect to the patents at issue in this case."