Judge Richard G. Andrews recently considered motions to sever and transfer which raised the issue of whether the court should apply the joinder rule of Federal Rule 20(a) or that of the America Invents Act, 35 U.S.C. §299. IPVenture, Inc. v. Acer, Inc., et al., C.A. No. 11-588-RGA (D. Del. July 24, 2012). Judge Andrews decided that §299 applies, but that the result would have been the same under Rule 20 as well. Severance was appropriate because plaintiff’s “allegations of commonality [we]re painted with a broad brush and appear[ed] to be inconsequential to the critical patent issues.” Id. at 3-4. The allegations related to joinder included “that the accused computers include ‘common components’ such as [Intel microprocessors, … cooling fans, operating systems (such as Microsoft Windows …), [and] embedded controllers.” Id. at 4 (alterations in original). Judge Andrews pointed out that just because “computers generally have the same components and the same functionalities does not mean that they are ‘the same in respects to the patent.’” Id. Therefore, the “claims of infringement against the defendants’ products d[id] not share an aggregate of operative facts.” Id. Judge Andrews also noted that the defendants’ relationship to each other – that is, that they are all direct competitors – “significantly counsel[ed] against their joinder in the same case. Id. at 4-5.
Judge Andrews also granted defendant ASUS’s motion to transfer to the Northern District of California. Plaintiff was a California corporation with a principal place of business in the Northern District. Therefore, Judge Andrews noted that while plaintiff’s choice of forum weighs strongly in plaintiff’s favor, it weighs “not as strongly as if would if plaintiff had its principal place of business (or, indeed, any place of business) in Delaware. Id.at 6-7. After weighing all factors, Judge Andrews found that “little beyond plaintiff’s choice of forum” weighed against transfer. Id. at 11.