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In re Mobile Telecommunications Technologies, LLC

United States District Court, D. Delaware

March 20, 2017

In Re Mobile Telecommunications Technologies, LLC,
v.
MOBILE TELECOMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, Defendant. ARRIS GROUP INC., Plaintiff, UBEE INTERACTIVE, INC. Plaintiff,
v.
MOBILE TELECOMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, Defendant. BRIGHT HOUSE NETWORKS, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
MOBILE TELECOMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, Defendant. No. 16-md-02722-LPS-CJB

          Richard L. Renck, DUANE MORRIS LLP, Wilmington, DE L. Norwood Jameson, Matthew C. Gaudet, Alison H. Hutton, DUANE MORRIS LLP, Atlanta, GA Joseph A. Powers, DUANE MORRIS LLP, Philadelphia, PA Counsel for ARRIS Group Inc. and Ubee Interactive, Inc.

          Richard L. Renck, DUANE MORRIS LLP, Wilmington, DE L. Norwood Jameson, Matthew C. Gaudet, Alison H. Hutton, DUANE MORRIS LLP, Atlanta, GA Joseph A. Powers, DUANE MORRIS LLP, Philadelphia, PA Patrick S. Salceda, DUANE MORRIS LLP, Palo Alto, CA Joshua B. Long, DUANE MORRIS LLP, Houston, TX Counsel for Bright House Networks, LLC

          Brian E. Farnan, Michael J. Farnan, FARNAN LLP, Wilmington, DE Henning Schmidt, Daniel R. Scardino, Drew Zerdecki, Kyle Harter, REED & SCARDINO LLP, Austin, TX Counsel for Mobile Telecommunications Technologies, LLC.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          STARK, U.S. District Judge.

         ARRIS Group Inc. ("ARRIS"), Ubee Interactive, Inc. ("Ubee"), and Bright House Networks, LLC ("BHN") (collectively, "DJ Plaintiffs") filed suits against Mobile Telecommunications Technologies, LLC ("MTel" or "Patentee"). DJ Plaintiffs seek declaratory judgments that neither they nor the purchasers of their products infringe MTel's United States Patent Nos. 5, 590, 403; 5, 915, 210; and 5, 659, 891 (collectively, the "patents-in-suit" or "asserted patents"). (C.A. 16-259 D.I. 1; C.A. 16-260 D.I. 1; C.A. 16-277 D.I. 1) (the "Complaints")

         Before the Court are MTel's motions to dismiss or stay for improper venue, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(3) and the first-filed rule, or, in the alternative, to transfer ARRIS's and Ubee's actions to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (the "Eastern District of Texas"), pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a). (C.A. No. 16-259 D.I. 14; C.A. No. 16-260 DJ. 14; 16-277 D.I. 17) ("Motions") For the reasons below, the Court will deny MTel's Motions.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         These cases are three of 14 actions in a multidistrict litigation centralized in the District of Delaware for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings. On January 4, 2016, Patentee MTel filed seven suits in the Eastern District of Texas, each alleging infringement of the three patents-in-suit.[1] The seven actions were consolidated into one lead case on April 11, 2016. (C.A. No. 16-692 D.I. 30)

         On April 13, 2016, DJ Plaintiffs ARRIS Group Inc. and Ubee Interactive, Inc. filed separate actions against MTel in this Court, each seeking declaratory judgment of non-infringement of the patents-in-suit. (C.A. No. 16-259 D.I 1; C.A. No. 16-260 D.I 1) On April 19, 2016, DJ Plaintiff BHN filed a similar declaratory judgment action in this Court. (C.A. No. 16-277 D.I 1)

         On May 3, 2016, MTel filed four additional lawsuits in the Eastern District of Texas against four new defendants, alleging infringement of the same three patents.[2] Three of these cases were consolidated into one lead case on July 21, 2016 (C.A. No. 16-700 D.I. 6), and the fourth was added on July 29, 2016 (id. at D.I. 7). (Hereinafter, the Court refers to the 11 actions filed in the Eastern District of Texas as the "Texas Actions" and the defendants in those actions, collectively, as the "Texas Defendants.")

         DJ Plaintiffs and the Texas Defendants fall into two general categories. ARRIS, Ubee, Juniper, Ruckus, Aerohive, Brocade, HP, Firetide, and Xirrus are Wi-Fi equipment providers. Cox, BHN, Charter, and TWC are cable network operators.

         On August 5, 2016, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ("JPML") determined that centralization of the 14 actions involving MTtel was appropriate, and transferred the cases to this Court for coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings. (Case No. 16-md-2722 ("MDL") D.I. 1)

         B. Patents-in-Suit[3]

         The patents-in-suit generally relate to wireless telecommunications. The '403 patent is entitled "Method and System for Efficiently Providing Two Way Communication Between a Central Network and Mobile Unit." The claims of the '403 patent cover methods for wirelessly simulcasting information signals. ('403 patent at 33:11-30, 34:35-62)

         The '210 patent is entitled "Method and System for Providing Multicarrier Simulcast Transmission." The claims of the '210 patent cover systems for wirelessly transmitting information via two sets of carrier signals in simulcast. ('210 patent at 33:47-62, 34:44-64, 36:7-24)

         The '891 patent is entitled "Multicarrier Techniques in Bandlimited Channels" and ' claims a system and methods for transmitting wireless signals using specific frequency spacing for carriers in a band-limited channel. ('891 patent at 6:4-44)

         C. The Instant Actions

         1. The Parties

         DJ Plaintiffs ARRIS and Ubee are Wi-Fi equipment providers. (C.A. No. 16-259 D.I. 1 at ¶ 13; C.A. No. 16-260 D.I. 1 at ¶ 13) ARRIS is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Suwanee, Georgia. (C.A. No. 16-259 D.I. 1 at ¶ 1) Ubee is a California corporation with its principal place of business in Centennial, Colorado. (C.A. No. 16-260 at ¶)

         DJ Plaintiff BHN is a cable operator, serving approximately 2.5 million customers who subscribe to one or more of its video, high-speed data, home security, and automation and voice services. (C.A. No. 16-277 at ¶ 13) BHN is a Delaware limited liability company with its principal place of business in East Syracuse, New York. (Id. at ¶ 1)

         Patentee Mobile Telecommunications Technologies, LLC is a Delaware limited liability company with a principal place of business in Lewisville, Texas. (Id. at ¶ 2)

         2. MTel's Motions

         MTel's pending Motions arise out of DJ Plaintiffs' declaratory judgment actions against MTel. ARRIS's and Ubee's Complaints allege that "MTel's infringement allegations ... are directed at the design and operation of the accused [IEEE] 802.11 a, g, n, and ac standard compliant Wi-Fi products" offered by ARRIS and Ubee. (C.A: No. 16-259 D.I. 1 at ¶ 5; C.A. No. 16-260 D.I. 1 at ¶ 5) They further allege that in the Texas Actions, the MTel complaints "specifically mention [ARRIS and Ubee] products as 'examples' of the allegedly infringing [equipment] provided by [ARRIS's and Ubee's] customers which directly infringe the Patents-in-Suit." (C.A. No. 16-259 D.I. 1 at ¶ 6; C.A. No. 16-260 D.I. 1 at ¶ 6) ARRIS and Ubee seek judgments declaring that they, and the purchasers of their 802.11 a, g, n, and/or ac products, "have not infringed, and do not infringe, ...


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