The Federal Circuit has ordered District Judge Alan D. Albright to transfer several more cases out of his courtroom, reversing prior denials of motions to transfer for convenience. These latest decisions build on a growing number of writs of mandamus that cement a clear appellate position: a district court abuses its discretion when it denies a defendant transfer to a more convenient forum, based on the other applicable factors, because “court congestion”—i.e., the West Texas court’s ability and willingness to set a relatively aggressive case schedule—is viewed to weigh against transfer, however heavily.
Having filed nine patent cases in September of this year, Express Mobile, Inc. has added another round, bringing the total number of the plaintiff’s 2020 lawsuits to 16. The new defendants are Adobe (X.Commerce (d/b/a Magento)) (3:20-cv-08297), Amazon (3:20-cv-08339), Booking Holdings (3:20-cv-08491), Pinterest (3:20-cv-08335), Salesforce (3:20-cv-08461), SAP (3:20-cv-08492), and Verizon (Oath) (3:20-cv-08321), all sued in the Northern District of California. Five patents, generally related to a browser-based tool for building webpages or to the creation of device-independent mobile apps that use web services, are asserted across these complaints, filed in a campaign that has now seen over 95 defendants hit since it began back in April 2015.
A recent privilege log ruling from Delaware District Judge Richard G. Andrews provides a rare, public glimpse into the pre-suit phase of an NPE’s monetization strategy. That December 3 order details how a now-prolific litigant spent over two years—starting at least in “early 2013, and probably by some time in 2011 or 2012”—gearing up for a litigation campaign launched in 2015. The plaintiff, per the court, had “multiple outside lawyers, most of whose roles are not entirely clear” and as having “various non-lawyer employees, directors, and consultants, who seemed to spend quite a bit of time drafting claim charts relating to potential infringement by dozens (if not hundreds) of companies”. Noting that the connection of the latter group “to the work of any of the lawyers is, for the most part, obscure”, Judge Andrews proceeded to require the disclosure of 11 of 13 disputed documents in a memorandum order that provides some guidance as to how the documents generated by such pre-suit activity might be handled, later, in the discovery phase of later litigation.
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In June 2020, in a Delaware declaratory judgment action brought by Shopify, District Judge Richard G. Andrews handed down an order construing several disputed claim terms from the five patents at issue in Express Mobile, Inc.’s web-building campaign. The order is one of several to construe claim terms from Express Mobile’s patents, following opinions from the Eastern District of Texas (in February 2018) and the Northern District of California (that September). The patent holder has now filed a wave of new cases for the sixth year in a row, suing Alphabet (Google) (6:20-cv-00804), Atlassian (6:20-cv-00805), Dropbox (6:20-cv-00806), eBay (6:20-cv-00802), Expedia (6:20-cv-00801), Facebook (6:20-cv-00803), HubSpot (1:20-cv-01162), Microsoft (3:20-cv-06152), and Squarespace (1:20-cv-01163) over the provision of web-based platforms and related apps and software.