We previously reported on the interplay between the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation (“MDL”) under 28 U.S.C. § 1407(a) and the joinder rules under 35 USC § 299 of the America Invents Act (“AIA”). In Unified Messaging Solutions, LLC v. United Online, Inc., et. al., 1-13-cv-00343 (N.D. Il. May 3, 2013) Judge Lefkow recently denied defendants’ motion to sever plaintiff’s infringement claims against them from pretrial consolidation in an MDL case, and rejected their argument that § 299 had been violated.
As we previously reported, the Smith-Leahy America Invents Act (“AIA”) prohibits plaintiff patent owners from joining multiple, unrelated defendants in a single action. An unintended, yet significant, consequence of this is that patent holders must bring serial litigations when more than one unrelated infringer is implicated. And, with the added possibility of declaratory judgment actions commenced in different venues, there is a real potential to have multiple cases — involving the same patent(s) — scattered across different judicial districts. Beyond the obvious resource concerns, this scenario may increase the risk of conflicting rulings.