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."

Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation et al v. Hilti, Inc., 2-14-cv-01288 (WIED April 27, 2015, Order) (Stadtmueller, J.)

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