Delaware Court Continues Streak of Patent Lawsuit Gains

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By Malathi Nayak

The Delaware federal court continued to cement its position as the busiest U.S. patent lawsuit venue as it saw infringement complaint filings increase in January.

Filings in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware jumped 83 percent, to 77, in January from the same period a year ago, according to Bloomberg Law data. Moreover, filings in the court grew 64 percent from December to January, the data show.

The Delaware district court received the highest number of patent infringement lawsuits, followed by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, which received 60 complaints, Bloomberg Law data show.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, which had a reputation for being more favorable to patent owners, saw patent infringement complaints drop sharply after the Supreme Court’s May 2017 ruling in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Group Brands LLC that curbed where patent owners can sue.

The Eastern District of Texas received 28 patent infringement complaints in January, compared to 106 complaints in the same period a year ago and 30 complaints in December, according to Bloomberg Law data. The court narrowly held on to its title of the most popular patent lawsuit venue in 2017 after receiving 867 infringement complaints last year, 90 more than the next closest court, Delaware.

Patent attorneys and intellectual property academics expected that Delaware and Northern California district courts would receive a large portion of the complaints that would have normally gone to Texas. Many companies are incorporated in Delaware and Northern California is a technology hub.

PersonalWeb Enforcement

Patent infringement filings in January totaled 294 lawsuits, climbing 20 percent from December and up 7 percent from a year ago.

Patent holding company PersonalWeb Technologies LLC was the top patent complaint filer, with 59 complaints. PersonalWeb filed complaints in the Eastern District of Texas, Delaware, the Southern District of New York, the Eastern District of New York, the Central District of California, and the Northern District of California.

PersonalWeb asserted five data transmission technology-related patents against online businesses, such as meal kit company Blue Apron Inc. and wedding industry marketplace WeddingWire Inc. PersonalWeb said in its complaints that it brought infringement claims on its own but included Level 3 Communications LLC as a co-plaintiff because the telecom and internet service provider owns a 50 percent stake in the asserted patents.

Patent challengers in January filed 121 inter partes review petitions attacking the validity of patents at the Patent and Trademark Office’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board, dropping slightly from 129 IPR petitions filed in December and slipping from 237 IPR petitions filed in the same period a year ago.

Rear-view mirror manufacturer SMR Automotive Systems USA Inc., electronic component maker Power Integrations Inc., and semiconductor systems makers Applied Materials Inc. were were among the top IPR filers.

Movie Studio Enforcement Continues

Copyright complaints in January rose 35 percent from December, to 526. The volume of January complaints soared 136 percent, compared with the same period a year earlier. The increase was driven by movie companies ramping up enforcement against online piracy of their films.

Strike 3 Holdings LLC, an adult movie-maker that started an enforcement campaign in late 2017, emerged the top copyright plaintiff in January after filing 140 complaints in January. Another adult movie-maker, Malibu Media LLC, was second, filing 138 complaints.

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California was the top venue for copyright infringement lawsuits. It received 88 copyright complaints in January, nearly twice the number of complaints it saw in the same period a year earlier, Bloomberg Law data show.

Trademark Suits Drop

Trademark complaints totaled 230 in January, falling 3 percent from December and down 6.4 percent compared to the same period a year ago.

Financial planning services firm Jalinski Advisory Group, telecom equipment maker Cisco, and beauty product company Cosmetic Warriors Ltd. were among the top filers of trademark lawsuits in January.

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California was the top venue for trademark infringement lawsuits, with 39 complaints. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, with 26 lawsuits, was second, followed by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York with 21 lawsuits.

To contact the reporter on this story: Malathi Nayak in Washington at mnayak@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at mwilczek@bloomberglaw.com

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