Judge Andrews Grants Request to Intervene
July 12, 2016
Publication| Intellectual Property
In MiiCs & Partners America, Inc., et al., v. Toshiba Corporation, et al., C.A. No. 14-803-RGA (D. Del. June 15, 2016), Judge Andrews granted the request by third party Samsung Display Company (“SDC”) to intervene. SDC moved to intervene on the grounds that it was the manufacturer of modules contained in many of the defendants’ accused products and, if the defendants were found to have infringed, SDC would have to indemnify the defendants. The plaintiffs objected to the motion to intervene on two grounds: (1) SDC’s interests were adequately represented by the existing defendants; and (2) SDC’s motion was untimely.
Judge Andrews noted that four elements must be met for a party to intervene when a right to intervene is not mandated by federal statute: (1) the intervenor has made a timely motion to intervene; (2) the intervenor has a sufficient interest in the case; (3) a threat exists that the intervenor’s interest will be impaired or affected by the case; and (4) a threat exists of inadequate representation of the intervenor’s interests by the existing parties in the case. Judge Andrews noted that the second and third elements were not “meaningfully contest[ed]” by the plaintiffs. In regards to the fourth element, Judge Andrews found that the interests of SDC were not fully represented by the existing defendants, stating that not all of the defendants’ allegedly infringing products contained SDC’s modules. Finally, Judge Andrews found that SDC’s motion was not untimely, despite the fact that the case was filed in 2014 and SDC did not file its motion to intervene until March 21, 2016. Judge Andrews found that almost no activity occurred within the first nine months after the complaint was filed, and the case was stayed for another eight months due to pending IPR petitions. Judge Andrews also found that SDC had participated in the scheduling conference in the case, and “[t]he Court has yet to hold a Markman hearing and the parties must still complete document production, exchange expert reports, finish fact discovery, and submit case dispositive motions.” Judge Andrews concluded that the plaintiffs would suffer no “serious prejudice” if SDC were permitted to intervene in the case. However, as the parties had already completed claim construction briefing, SDC was precluded from offering any constructions or arguments that differed from those already submitted in those briefs.
Analysis: If a timely request is made, leave to intervene typically will be granted. However, an intervening party will not be permitted to relitigate issues. On occasion, a manufacturer will intervene to protect an allegedly infringing customer’s interests.