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Zipit Wireless Inc. v. Blackberry Ltd.

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Greenville Division

June 24, 2016

Zipit Wireless Inc., Plaintiff,
v.
Blackberry Limited f/k/a/ Research in Motion Limited & Blackberry Corporation f/k/a Research in Motion Corporation, Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

         Plaintiff Zipit Wireless (“Plaintiff”) brought this action, (ECF No. 1), on October 30, 2013, for patent infringement against Defendants Blackberry Limited and Blackberry Corporation (collectively “Defendants”). This matter is before the court on Defendants’ Motion to Stay Litigation (ECF No. 83). For the reasons set forth below, the court DENIES Defendants’ Motion.

         I. JURISDICTION AND VENUE

         This court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1338 (2012) because this is a civil action for patent infringement under the Patent Act, 35 U.S.C. § 101 et seq. (2012). This court has personal jurisdiction over Defendants because they conduct regular and systematic business in the State of South Carolina and maintain a registered agent for service of process in the State of South Carolina. Venue is proper under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1338, 1391(a), 1391(b), 1391(c), and 1400(b).

         II. RELEVANT BACKGROUND TO PENDING MOTION

         On October 30, 2013, Plaintiff brought this suit for patent infringement of four different patents: (1) No. 7, 894, 837 (“Patent 837”), (2) No. 8, 190, 694 (“Patent 694”), (3) No. 7, 292, 870 (“Patent 870”), and (4) No. 8, 086, 678 (“Patent 678”). (ECF No. 28.) Trial was originally set for December 7, 2015. (ECF Nos. 31, 77.) In preparation for trial, the parties exchanged infringement contentions, invalidity contentions, claim constructions for the disputed claim terms, and filed the Joint Claim Construction and Pre-Hearing Statement. (ECF No. 77 at 2.) Further, the parties produced documents and participated in written discovery, but did not take depositions. (Id.) However, the parties agreed to stay litigation until two weeks after the final decision by the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (“USPTO”) Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”) for the Inter Partes Review[1] (“IPR”) of Plaintiffs four patents. (ECF No. 63.) The PTAB found (1) all of Patent 870’s claims were valid, (2) all of Patent 837’s claims were valid, (3) claims 1, 2, 5, and 7 of Patent 678 were invalid, and (4) claims 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7 of Patent 694 were invalid. (ECF No. 77 at 3.)

         Defendants appealed the PTAB’s decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”).[2] Defendants now file another Motion to Stay pending the Federal Circuit’s decision. (EFC No. 83.) In response, Plaintiff files an Opposition to Defendants’ Motion to Stay. (ECF No. 90.) If Defendants’ Motion to Stay is granted, “the ‘[p]arties ready for Jury Selection followed by Trial’ deadline would be no earlier than June 12, 2017.” (ECF No. 77 at 5.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Although a motion to stay is not expressly addressed in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, it is a power inherent to the courts “under their general equity powers and in the efficient management of their dockets.” Williford v. Armstrong World Industries, Inc., 715 F.2d 124, 127 (4th Cir. 1983). The moving party seeking the motion to stay has the burden of proof to “justify [its motion] by clear and convincing circumstances outweighing potential harm to the party against whom it is operative.” Williford, 715 F.2d at 127.

         Under the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“America Invents Act”):

If a party seeks a stay of a civil action alleging infringement of a patent under section 281 of title 35, United States Code, relating to a transitional proceeding for that patent, the court shall decide whether to enter a stay based on--
(A) whether a stay, or the denial thereof, will simplify the issues in question and streamline the trial;
(B) whether discovery is complete and whether a trial date has been set;
(C) whether a stay, or the denial thereof, would unduly prejudice the nonmoving party or present a clear tactical advantage for the moving party; and
(D) whether a stay, or the denial thereof, will reduce the burden of litigation on the ...

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