The case brought by Uniloc USA, Inc. and Uniloc Luxembourg S.A. (collectively, “Uniloc”) against Big Fish Games has been transferred from the Eastern District of Texas (2:17-cv-00172) to the Western District of Washington (2:17-cv-01183) by joint stipulation. Although Uniloc agreed to the transfer in this instance, its overall behavior in the wake of TC Heartland has bucked the general trend in which NPEs have either ridden the wave of transfers from Texas or shifted their efforts elsewhere. Many NPEs have increasingly avoided the Eastern District of Texas in new filings while either conceding to venue challenges or dismissing and re-filing existing cases in other venues, with early favorites including the District of Delaware, the Northern District of Illinois, and the Northern District of California. Uniloc, by contrast, has continued to file litigation in the Eastern District of Texas and has shown a greater willingness to push back against venue motions.
A variety of NPEs have reacted to the US Supreme Court’s decision in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods Group Brands (2016-0341) by either dismissing and re-filing their cases in other districts or simply conceding venue challenges. In contrast, Australian NPE Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited has further dug its heels into the Eastern District of Texas. Shortly after Uniloc filed a series of new and amended complaints against Google, designed to establish proper venue in the Eastern District, defendants in some of the NPE’s other Texas litigation filed a host of venue motions against it. On June 2, Ubisoft (2:16-cv-00745, 2:16-cv-00781) filed two motions both seeking transfer to the Northern District of California or dismissal for improper venue in litigation targeting its software licensing and notification systems, joined by a similar motion filed by Piriform on June 7 (in a consolidated action against AVG, 2:16-cv-00393) seeking dismissal or transfer to Delaware. Ubisoft filed another such motion in Uniloc’s software update campaign on June 2 (2:17-cv-00175), also seeking transfer to the Northern District of California or dismissal for improper venue, joined by another Northern District transfer/dismissal motion brought by Box (2:17-cv-00173), with campaign co-defendant Zendesk (2:17-cv-00176) filing its own motion to dismiss due to improper venue that same day.
The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) saw a decline in petitions for AIA review filed against NPES in April 2017. While the total number of April petitions, 120, was somewhat less than the three-year monthly average of 150, NPEs were hit by 20 petitions in April, a 68.8 percent decline from 64 the previous month. The dip in April PTAB filings comes in the midst of an overall increase in PTAB petitions over the previous year, with the total number of petitions filed so far in fiscal year 2017 nearing 1,200 as of the date of this report (compared to just over 930 petitions during the same period last year). Prolific private litigants remain a regular target for PTAB petitions, with petitions filed in April against IP Edge LLC and Uniloc Corporation Pty. Limited, while Acacia Research Corporation was the only publicly traded NPE named in petitions brought during that month.