Usually in American courts, parties get one chance to litigate a single legal claim. Courts enforce that principle in a variety of ways – at the back end, through rules like claim and issue preclusion; and at the front end, through rules like the duplicative-litigation doctrine. This week’s case of the week looks at that front-end enforcement.
Case of the (recent) week: Arendi S.A.R.L. v. LG Electronics Inc., No. 21-1967
Panel: Judges Prost, Chen, and Stoll, with Judge Post writing the opinion
You should read this case if: you have a case potentially implicating the duplicative-litigation doctrine
Arendi sued LG (among others) in the District of Delaware for allegedly infringing several patents. Delaware’s local rules required Arendi to produce a claim chart “relating each accused product to the asserted claims each product allegedly infringes.” Although Arendi’s infringement allegations involved hundreds of LG products, it produced a chart for only one LG product labeled as “exemplary.” As litigation proceeded, LG repeatedly warned Arendi that it believed Arendi’s chart failed to comply with local rules. When Arendi later served an expert report that made specific allegations about more than the single product identified in the chart, LG succeeded in having the district court strike the relevant portions of Arendi’s expert report. Arendi then filed a second complaint against LG based on the same products and one of the same patents. The district court granted LG’s motion to dismiss that complaint as duplicative, and Arendi appealed the dismissal.
The Federal Circuit affirmed. It applied Third Circuit law to the issue of a district court’s power to administer its docket, including to conserve resources by preventing duplicative litigation. The Court explained that the Third Circuit applies the duplicative-litigation doctrine when two separate actions involve “the same subject matter at the same time in the same court against the same defendant.” Whether patent actions involve the same subject matter may depend on (1) “the overlap of the products accused” in the two actions; and (2) “the overlap of the patents in both suits.” Arendi conceded that it had asserted the same patents in both suits. And the Court rejected Arendi’s argument that there was no overlap in accused products. Arendi’s infringement disclosures in the first action identified the same products accused in the second action. Arendi also served interrogatories and received discovery related to those products in the first action. Although the district court had granted LG’s motion to strike portions of Arendi’s expert report addressing those products, that grant was not because those products had not been accused in the first action. Rather, the grant was because “Arendi had failed to fulfill its discovery obligations with respect to those products.”
Although the Federal Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Arendi’s second complaint as duplicative, the Court noted that the fight may not be over entirely. Arendi still had the option of renewing a motion to supplement its chart in the first action. The Court left it to the district court to decide any such request, with the outcome of course potentially appealable to the Federal Circuit following final judgment in that action.
OTHER WEEKLY STATS
Precedential opinions: 5
Non-precedential opinions: 10
Rule 36: 2
Longest pending case from argument: Apple Inc. v. MPH Technologies Oy, Nos. 21-1355, 21-1356 (275 days)
Shortest (non-Rule 36) pending case from argument: Arendi S.A.R.L. v. LG Electronics Inc., No. 21-1967 (37 days)