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Judge Sleet grants motion to stay pending IPR

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In a recent Order, Judge Gregory M. Sleet stayed fifteen related cases pending the inter partes review of U.S. Patent No. 6,978,346 (“the ’346 Patent”). Safe Storage LLC v. Dell Inc., C.A. No. 12-1624-GMS (D. Del. Jan. 22, 2015). While four defendants did not seek a stay of their cases, Judge Sleet sua sponte stayed those cases as well, explaining that those defendants “have put forward no objections, and judicial efficiency favors a stay of all of the cases, rather than allowing [those] four to go forward, perhaps unnecessarily.” Id. at 2 n. 4.

Considering the moving defendants’ motion to stay, Judge Sleet first noted that in “March 2014, the PTAB had initiated IPR proceedings for only seven of the nine claims of the ‘346 Patent” and that “[f]ollowing an additional petition for review filed by [other defendants], the PTAB instituted IPR over all nine claims.” Id. at 1 n. 2. Judge Sleet thus concluded that each of the traditional “factors weigh[ed] in favor of staying proceedings, especially in light of the PTAB’s recent decision to institute review of all of the claims of the ‘346 Patent.” Id. at 2 n. 4.

First, Judge Sleet found that the prejudice to plaintiff, “if any, would be minimal and not undue.” Id. Specifically, Judge Sleet explained that while plaintiff “would undoubtedly prefer a quicker resolution to a slower one, there is no suggestion that time is particularly important.” Id. Judge Sleet noted that although plaintiff “raises concerns about prolonged litigation reducing the value of its patents as licensing assets, . . . the court finds this anxiety to be overstated.” Id. Second, Judge Sleet found that staying the proceedings pending resolution of the IPR “would greatly simplify the issues for trial,” noting that plaintiff’s “initial objection that not all of the claims were under review has been rendered moot now that the PTAB instituted review over all nine claims in December 2014.” Id. Judge Sleet further explained that “[e]ven though the four non-moving Defendants are not similarly estopped, the court is convinced that the IPR findings will simplify some, if not large, aspects of those cases as well.” Id. Judge Sleet finally noted that “these cases are still in their relative infancies.” Id.

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