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Magistrate Judge Burke Denies Motion to Stay Pending Resolution of Motion to Transfer

Magistrate Judge Christopher Burke has denied patent infringement defendant Yahoo!’s motion to stay in a case referred to Judge Burke for resolution of all pretrial matters. See Pragmatus AV, LLC v. Yahoo! Inc., C.A. No. 11-908-LPS-CJB, Memorandum Order at 1 (D. Del. May 30, 2013). Plaintiff Pragmatus sued Yahoo! for patent infringement in the District of Delaware in 2011. During 2012, Yahoo! filed a motion to transfer venue to the Northern District of California, and the Court denied the motion. In early 2013, however, Pragmatus filed a separate lawsuit involving two new patents against Yahoo! in the Northern District of California. Yahoo! promptly filed a renewed motion to transfer venue along with a motion to stay the Delaware proceedings pending resolution of its renewed motion to transfer. Id. at 1-2. Judge Burke considered only the motion to stay, leaving resolution of the renewed motion to transfer for another day.

Considering first the status of the litigation, Judge Burke found that the “case is by no means in its early stages.” Not only was the fact discovery deadline approaching, but the Court had “expended significant resources on the matter,” resolving a motion to transfer, a motion to dismiss, and numerous discovery disputes. “Our Court,” Judge Burke explained, “has found that in such circumstances, it is more difficult for a stay to be characterized as promoting the efficient use of judicial resources.” Accordingly, “the stage of this litigation—with some important case events still ahead, but with many having already been completed—weighs slightly against a stay.” Id. at 4-5.

Judge Burke next considered whether a stay would simplify issues in the case. Yahoo! argued that a stay or transfer would simplify issues and promote judicial efficiency by preventing duplication of effort between the Delaware and California courts. As Pragmatus argued and Judge Burke agreed, however, this argument for simplification was purely speculative in that “a stay would only prevent duplicative litigation if this Court were to (1) later grant the renewed Motion to Transfer; and then (2) this action and the California Action were consolidated for discovery and trial in the Northern District of California; and (3) that consolidation occurred in such a manner as to reduce or eliminate the prospect for the type of duplicative discovery that Yahoo! is concerned about among the two actions.” Judge Burke continued, “if one or more of those eventualities do not later occur . . . the proposed stay will likely result in complication, not simplification—it will have frozen the progress of this case as discovery nears its end, without much or any resulting efficiency benefit to this Court or the Northern District of California. . . . A stay at this precise point in the litigation, even pending decision on the renewed Motion to Transfer, would complicate the orderly proceeding of the completion of the discovery period, which is otherwise currently in full swing as this very motion awaits resolution.” Therefore, “[i]n light of the speculative nature of the prospect for simplification . . . the Court [found] that this factor weighed against a stay.” Id. at 5-7.

Finally, Judge Burke considered the possibility of prejudice to either party and found that, although there was some possibility of prejudice, it did not meaningfully favor either granting or denying a stay. Thus, all three factors relevant to the stay analysis either weighed against granting a stay, or were neutral, and Judge Burke denied the motion to stay. Id. at 7-10.

Pragmatus AV, LLC v. Yahoo! Inc., C.A. No. 11-908-LPS-CJB, Memorandum Order (D. Del. May 30, 2013).

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