Court Grants Defendant Brandywine’s Motion to Dismiss Verizon’s Declaratory Judgment
- April 13, 2012
April 10, 2012 – Judge Legrome Davis, of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, granted defendant Brandywine’s [NPE] motion to dismiss Verizon Online’s declaratory judgment action under the first-to-file rule despite the fact that Verizon Online wasn’t named in the original suit. In August 2011, Brandywine filed suit against four telecom companies in the Middle District of Florida, alleging that the defendants, including Verizon Online’s parent company Verizon Communications, infringed patents related to a range of communications technologies. Verizon Communications moved for dismissal of the action in Florida for lack of personal jurisdiction, arguing that they were merely a holding company and therefore not a properly named defendant. Brandywine responded by filing a jurisdictional discovery motion to determine which of Verizon Communications subsidiaries specifically was performing the alleged infringement. Following this, Verizon Online filed the declaratory judgment action in PAED, seeking a judgment of noninfringement and Brandywine moved to dismiss the action. In granting Brandywine’s request, Judge Davis reasoned, “[Plaintiff] engaged in overt forum-shopping and intended to preempt [defendant’s] infringement suit by filing the instant action . . . one day after [defendant] requested jurisdictional discovery to investigate the relationship between Verizon Communications and its subsidiaries.” Regarding the issue of dismissing the case under the first-to-file rule, the judge found that “looking to which court first obtained possession of the subject of the dispute, not the parties, is particularly appropriate in the instant case . . . [given that Brandywine] was attempting to ascertain the name of the proper [entity] against which to file suit, [and that plaintiff] made no efforts to disclose the name of the entity.” Brandywine also filed a plurality of additional lawsuits in February 2012 against defendants including Apple, HTC, Motorola Mobility, Nokia, RIM, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.