Duplicative-Litigation Doctrine: Proper Motion Practice Is Essential to Avoid Dismissal of Duplicative Complaints
Before Prost, Chen, and Stoll. Appeal from the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.
Summary: Under the duplicative-litigation doctrine, a party cannot maintain two separate actions involving the same subject matter, at the same time, in the same court, and against the same defendant.
Arendi S.A.R.L. (“Arendi”) sued LG Electronics (“LG”) for infringement of various patents. Pursuant to the Local Patent Rules, Arendi served its initial infringement contentions. However, Arendi provided a claim chart for only one product – LG’s Rebel 4 phone. LG informed Arendi that the singular claim chart failed to comply with the Local Patent Rules, which require a claim chart for each accused product. Arendi never supplemented its contentions to include additional products or explained how the Rebel 4 was representative of other LG products. LG moved to strike portions of Arendi’s expert report that included infringement allegations against non-Rebel 4 products. The district court granted LG’s motion because Arendi did not timely disclose those contentions. Arendi filed a second complaint, asserting that non-Rebel 4 products infringe the same patent. LG moved to dismiss the second complaint as duplicative. The district court granted LG’s motion and Arendi appealed.
Applying the Third Circuit’s standard of review, the Federal Circuit affirmed. The Federal Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that Arendi’s second case was improperly duplicative. Under the duplicative-litigation doctrine, a party cannot bring two separate actions involving the same subject matter, at the same time, in the same court, and against the same defendant. Patent cases involve the same subject matter when the same patent is asserted and the accused products are at least essentially the same or identical. Arendi argued that the there is no overlap between the accused products because the district court granted LG’s motion to strike portions of Arendi’s expert report. The Federal Circuit disagreed, noting that the district court granted the motion to strike due to Arendi’s failure to fulfill its discovery obligations. The Federal Circuit held that Arendi litigated the non-Rebel 4 products in the first case, noting that Arendi listed the accused products in its infringement contentions, served interrogatories about the accused products, and received discovery related to those products.
Editor: Paul Stewart