ETS-Lindgren, Inc. (“ETS”), as the assignee of U.S. Patent No. 8,331,869 (“the ‘869 patent”) pertaining to testing wireless devices, brought an infringement action against MVG, Inc. (“MVG”), on May 28, 2015. MVG petitioned the Patent Trial and Appeal Baord (“PTAB”) almost a year later, on April 12, 2016, for inter partes review (“IPR”) of the ‘869 patent. This filing was shortly followed by ETS’s motion to stay.
Judge Totenberg noted her discretion to stay the pending action pending the PTAB’s review. See Procter & Gamble Co. v. Kraft Foods Global, Inc., 549 F.3d 842, 848-49 (Fed. Cir. 2008). The Order set forth the three factors to be considered by the Court:
(1) “whether discovery is complete and a trial date has been set”;
(2) “whether a stay will simplify the issues in the case”; and
(3) “whether a stay would unduly prejudice or present a tactical disadvantage to the nonmovant.”
Id. (citing Xerox Corp. v. 3Com Corp., 69 F. Supp. 2d 404, 406 (W.D.N.Y. 1999)); accord Intellectual Ventures II LLC v. SunTrust Banks, Inc., No. 1:13-cv-02454-WSC, 2014 WL 5019911 (N.D. Ga. Oct. 7, 2014).
Noting that discovery was not complete, no depositions had been taken, no Markman hearing had been held, and a trial date had not bee set, Judge Totenberg found “intra-case timing weighs in favor of a stay.”
The Court noted that simplification by the IPR could occur in three ways: (1) claims could be found unpatentable; (2) the IPR could find anticipation or obviousness precluded one or more claims (binding MVG from relying on those defenses), or (3) a refusal to grant the IPR potentially because the claims are indefinite and “simply cannot be construed and compared to the prior art.”
According to the ruling, prejudice or disadvantage to the non-movant was either neutral of only slightly against a stay. MVG did not have other counterclaims unrelated to patent validity and did not argue the presence of any witness location or retention issues. The Court noted the quick resolution required of the PTAB and that the IPR had been initiated by MVG. The Court did not feel any tactical disadvantages to MVG as a result of another case between the same parties proceeding before Judge Steve Jones was “sufficient to overcome the benefits of a stay in this case.”
The case was administratively closed following the entry of the stay.
The order is ETS-Lindgren, Inc. v. MVG, Inc., Docket no. 87, decided June 14, 2016, in 1:15-cv-03859-AT, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, entered by Judge Amy Totenberg.