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Monday, December 11, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Joint Ruling Refuses to Merge Tech Patent Suits

MARSHALL, Texas (CN) - Similar patent infringement claims against Google and a group that includes Amazon, Apple and Motorola will proceed separately, a federal judge ruled.

ContentGuard Holding's original December 2013 complaint named as defendants Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry, Huawei Device USA Inc. and Motorola. It added claims against HTC and Samsung the next month.

They stand accused of using ContentGuard's "digital rights management," or DRM, patent in their devices and apps.

ContentGuard said Amazon and the others also used Google Play apps "on their respective devices to practice ContentGuard's DRM patents" and implemented "one or more versions of the Unique Identifier Technology Solution (UITS) on their devices."

Despite the reference to Google Play, ContentGuard did not name Google as a defendant in the Amazon suit. It sued Google in Texas this past February only after Google filed suit in California "seeking a declaration that Google Play Books, Google Play Music and/or Google Play Movies do not infringe ContentGuard's DRM patents."

U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap conceded that ContentGuard's two Texas cases present substantial overlap but declined to consolidate them Tuesday.

"ContentGuard could have named Google as a defendant in the Amazon action, both in its original complaint and in the amendment complaint, but elected not to do so," the 13-page opinion states. "To now grant ContentGuard's request and have the Amazon and Google actions proceed on a consolidated basis might be deemed by future litigants as an invitation to follow a similar path."

Gilstrap nevertheless handled the related motions about the other case in the joint opinion, refusing to stay the case against Google and carrying a motion by Motorola to sever.

Google cannot stay the patent infringement action pending the resolution of its declaratory judgment suit because the Amazon action "takes precedence over Google's later-filed declaratory judgment action," he wrote.

In carrying Motorola's motion to sever ContentGuard's claims against it in the Amazon suit, Judge Gilstrap gave the phone giant 60 days to provide a supplemental brief that more clearly explains software-hardware distinctions to support its motion.

"While ContentGuard's claims against each manufacturer defendant share the common facts underlying the three accused software applications and may depend on each defendant's individually accused devices, no evidence has been proffered regarding how the accused software-hardware combination corresponds to claims of the asserted patents," Gilstrap wrote.

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