Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Cascades Computer Innovation, LLC v. Motorola Mobility Holdings, Inc.

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

July 5, 2013

CASCADES COMPUTER INNOVATION, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
MOTOROLA MOBILITY HOLDINGS, INC., et al., Defendants. CASCADES COMPUTER INNOVATION, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
SONY ERICSSON MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS (USA) INC., Defendant. CASCADES COMPUTER INNOVATION, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
PANTECH WIRELESS, INC., Defendant. CASCADES COMPUTER INNOVATION, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
SHARP ELECTRONICS CORP., Defendant. CASCADES COMPUTER INNOVATION, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
DELL INC., Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

MATTHEW F. KENNELLY, District Judge.

In separate lawsuits, Cascades Computer Innovation, LLC has sued a number of defendants alleging infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7, 065, 750. Two of the cases (Case Nos. 11 C 7252 and 11 C 7264) are assigned to the undersigned judge. The others (Case Nos. 11 C 4574, 11 C 7223, and 11 C 7229) were transferred to the undersigned judge pursuant to Northern District of Illinois Internal Operating Procedure 13 for purposes of claim construction and, via a subsequent order, for consideration of parallel motions to dismiss filed in each of the cases. This decision concerns the motions to dismiss.

Cascades does not own the '750 patent. Rather, it alleges that it has an exclusive license under the patent and the exclusive right to sue for its past, present, and future infringement. Defendants contend that others have rights under the '750 patent - or, at least, that Cascades has failed to show otherwise - and that Cascades lacks standing to sue for infringement of the patent on its own.

Discussion

A suit for patent infringement may be brought by a patentee, a term defined by statute to include the party to whom the patent was issued and successors in title. 35 U.S.C. §§ 281 & 100(d). A party to whom a patent has been assigned likewise has the right to sue for infringement on its own, without joining the patent owner. See Waterman v. Mackenzie, 138 U.S. 252, 255 (1891); AsymmetRx, Inc. v. Biocare Medical, LLC, 582 F.3d 1314, 1318-19 (Fed. Cir. 2009). A mere licensee of a patent, however, generally may not sue without joining the patent owner, either voluntarily or involuntarily. See Independent Wireless Telegraph Co. v. Radio Corp. of Am., 269 U.S. 459, 468, 473-74 (1926); AsymmetRx, 582 F.3d at 1319.

"[T]he critical determination regarding a party's ability to sue in its own name is whether an agreement transferring patent rights to that party is, in effect, an assignment or a mere license." AsymmetRx, 582 F.3d at 1319. This "[does] not depend on the name applied to it, but on the intention of the parties as revealed by the record." Id. at 1318 (citing Waterman, 138 U.S. at 255). To determine whether an assignment of patent rights was made, a court must "examine whether the agreement transferred all substantial rights to the patent[ ] and whether the surrounding circumstances indicated an intent to do so." Id. at 1319 (internal quotation marks omitted).

For purposes of determining a licensee's right to sue, there are three categories of licensees, based on the amount of exclusionary control the licensee has: "those that can sue in their own name alone; those that can sue as long as the patent owner is joined in the suit; and those that cannot even participate as a party to an infringement suit." Morrow v. Microsoft Corp., 499 F.3d 1332, 1339 (Fed. Cir. 2007). Those who can sue in their own name alone are assignees and exclusive licensees to whom "all substantial rights to the patent" have been transferred. Id. at 1340. Exclusive licensees who do not hold all substantial rights must join the patent holder in order to sue, to avoid the possibility that the accused infringer could later be sued separately by the patent holder. Id. Licensees who lack exclusionary rights - such as those who are authorized to make, use, and sell the patented product but have no right to prevent others from doing so - cannot sue for infringement. Id. at 1341.

In January 2011, Cascades entered into an "exclusive license agreement" with Elbrus International Ltd., a Cayman Islands company with its principal place of business in Russia, and Elbrus Svarog L.P., a Cayman Islands limited partnership with its principal place of business in that same country. The agreement recited that Elbrus International was the exclusive owner of the '750 patent and other patents and that it was granting Cascades "worldwide exclusive license rights" in the patents in order to "commercialize" them. Dell Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. 1 ¶ A. The agreement further stated that Elbrus International and Elbrus Svarog had been parties to a previous "exclusive license" dated January 2009 but had entered into an agreement terminating that exclusive license. Id. ¶ C. The Elbrus/Cascades agreement stated that Elbrus Svarog had joined as a party "to ensure that all rights to license and enforce the Patents are conveyed to [Cascades] hereunder." Id.

Paragraph 1.1 of the Elbrus/Cascades agreement stated that the Elbrus entities granted to Cascades "the worldwide, exclusive right and license under the Patents to exclude others from making, having made, using, importing, offering to sell or selling products, methods or services covered by the Patents, including the exclusive right to grant sublicenses..., to sue for and collect past, present and future damages and to seek and obtain injunctive or any other relief for infringement of the Patents and to otherwise enforce and/or commercialize the Patents." Id. ¶ 1.1. The same paragraph stated that the grant of the exclusive right and license as described "shall be exclusive, even as to Licensor, and, except for the rights granted under the Existing Licenses (defined below), shall be exclusive with respect to any and all persons or entities throughout the world." Id. The agreement conferred upon Cascades the exclusive right to license and make other agreements concerning the patents, "provided, however, [Cascades] acknowledges and agrees that Licensor has granted certain licenses to third parties which are identified in Schedule 2 hereto (the Existing Licenses') and that the license rights granted to Licensee hereunder are qualified by the rights granted to the licensees under the Existing Licenses." Cascades further acknowledged and agreed that the patents "may be included in the Agreement dated December 30, 2000, between Elbrus International Limited and ZAO MCST, set forth in Schedule 2 hereof." Id. Finally, paragraph 1.1 stated that "Licensor expressly retains no rights to enforce or license the Patents, including without limitation, the right to sue for infringement of the Patents, prior to any termination of this Agreement, and specifically grants Licensee all such rights prior to any termination." Id.

The Elbrus/Cascades agreement repeated in paragraph 1.3 that "Licensor expressly retains no rights to sue, to seek and to obtain injunctive or other relief for infringement of the Patents, and no other rights or licenses under the Patents are granted or implied." Id. ¶ 1.3. The Elbrus entities also expressly gave up the right to assign, license, or otherwise convey any rights under the patents or to create any liens or encumbrances on them. Id. ¶ 1.4. In another paragraph of the agreement, the Elbrus entities represented and warranted that "except for the Existing Licenses, neither Licensor nor any Inventor has assigned, licensed, granted covenants not to sue, transferred or otherwise conveyed to any other person or entity any of its or his rights, title, claims, interest or privileges with respect to the Patents." Id. ¶ 3.1.4.

As noted earlier, paragraph 1.1 of the Elbrus/Cascades agreement referenced certain existing licenses, listed in Schedule 2 of the agreement. Schedule 2, entitled "Existing License Agreements with Respect to Patents, " identified two existing agreements concerning the patents: a "License Agreement dated December 30, 2000, entered into by and between Elbrus International Limited and ZAO MCST, as amended from time to time, " and a "Patent License Agreement dated May 19, 2004, as amended from time to time" between ZAO Elbrus MCST, a Russian joint stock company, OOO Novosibirsky Centr Informatsionnykh Tekhnologii "UNIPRO, " a Russian limited liability company, ZAO UniPro Systemy, a Russian joint stock company, Elbrus Services Limited, a Cayman Islands company, and Elbrus International, on the one hand, and Intel Corporation on the other. id., Sched. 2.

The December 2000 Elbrus International/ZAO MCST license agreement was a "non-exclusive, non-transferable, perpetual license" granted to ZAO MCST to reproduce and use certain hardware to develop a microprocessor and to reproduce, use, and modify certain licensed software to develop "the Elbrus Microprocessor Software." Dell Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. 2 ¶ 2.1. The agreement recited that Elbrus International owned and retained ownership of all intellectual property rights in the licensed technology. Id. ¶ 2.6.

The agreement described in Schedule 2 of the Elbrus/Cascades agreement as the "Patent License Agreement dated May 19, 2004, as amended from time to time" between Elbrus International and certain other related entities and Intel Corporation is the primary bone of contention in the present motions to dismiss. No executed copy of a May 19, 2004 patent license agreement has been produced or, apparently, located by any party. The only executed patent license agreement among those parties that has been located is an agreement dated August 6, 2004. The August 6, 2004 agreement is entitled "Patent License Agreement Between Bear and Eagle USA Corporation." The parties to this agreement are Elbrus International and the related entities referenced earlier - referred to collectively as "Bear, " presumably because of their Russian origin - and Intel Corporation, referred to in the agreement as "Eagle" due to its origin in the United States. See Dell Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. 5. In the August 6, 2004 agreement, the "Bear" entities granted to Intel "a non-exclusive, non-transferrable, fully-paid, world-wide license, without the right to sublicense" regarding various patents, including the '750 patent, to make, use, sell, offer to sell, import and otherwise dispose of Intel products and to have such products made by others for supply to Intel. Id. ¶ 3.1. The August 6, 2004 agreement also contained the following provision:

Entire Agreement. This Agreement embodies the entire understanding of the Parties with respect to the subject matter hereof, and merges all prior discussions between them, and neither of the Parties shall be bound by any conditions, definitions, warranties, understandings, or representations with respect to the subject matter hereof other than as expressly provided herein. No oral ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.