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Uniloc 2017 LLC v. Verizon Communications Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Marshall Division

April 22, 2019

UNILOC 2017 LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC., CELLCO PARTNERSHIP INC., VERIZON BUSINESS NETWORK SERVICES, INC., VERIZON DIGITAL MEDIA SERVICES, INC., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Rodney Gilscrap, United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is Ericsson, Inc.'s (“Ericsson”) Motion to Intervene as a Defendant (the “Motion”). (Dkt. No. 17.) Having considered the Motion, briefing, and relevant authorities, the Court is of the opinion that the Motion should be and hereby is GRANTED for the reasons set forth herein.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On November 17, 2018, Plaintiff Uniloc 2017 LLC (“Uniloc”) sued Defendants Verizon Communications, Inc., Cellco Partnership Inc. d/b/a Verizon Wireless, Verizon Business Network Services, Inc., and Verizon Digital Media Services, Inc. (collectively “Verizon”) for patent infringement. (Dkt. No. 1.) Verizon filed its Answer on January 18, 2019, (Dkt. No. 12), and the Court held a scheduling conference on March 18, 2019. (Dkt. No. 16.)

         According to the complaint, Uniloc accuses Verizon's “network, base stations, and network controllers (collectively, the ‘Accused Infringing Devices') that provide shared network access to LTE-LAA and Wi-Fi capable devices over at least one common frequency band” of infringing at least one claim of U.S. Patent No. 7, 017, 676 (the “'676 patent”). (Dkt. No. 1 ¶ 97.) Ericsson filed a motion to intervene as a defendant on March 8, 2019, on the basis that it “sells base stations to Verizon that implement the accused LTE-LAA feature.” (Dkt. No. 17 at 1.) Ericsson moves to intervene as a matter of right, Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(a), or alternatively, requests permission to intervene pursuant to the Court's discretion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(b). Verizon does not oppose intervention, but Uniloc does. (Dkt. No. 17 at 3; Dkt. No. 19.)

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         A. Mandatory Intervention

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2) provides that “[o]n timely motion, the court must permit anyone to intervene who . . . claims an interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action, and is so situated that disposing of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede the movant's ability to protect its interest, unless existing parties adequately represent that interest.” Thus, a prospective intervenor is entitled to intervention if each of the following elements is satisfied:

(1) the application for intervention must be timely; (2) the applicant must have an interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action; (3) the applicant must be so situated that the disposition of the action may, as a practical matter, impair or impede his ability to protect that interest; and (4) the applicant's interest must be inadequately represented by the existing parties to the suit.

Texas v. United States, 805 F.3d 653, 657 (5th Cir. 2017) (citing New Orleans Pub. Serv., Inc. v. United Gas Pipe Line Co., 732 F.2d 452, 463 (5th Cir. 1984) (en banc)). “Failure to satisfy one requirement precludes intervention of right.” Haspel & Davis Milling & Planting Co. v. Bd. Of Levee Comm'rs of the Orleans Levee Dist., 493 F.3d 570, 578 (5th Cir. 2007). However, “[t]he rule ‘is to be liberally construed,' with ‘doubts resolved in favor of the proposed intervenor.'” Entergy Gulf States Louisiana, L.L.C. v. U.S. E.P.A., 817 F.3d 198, 203 (5th Cir. 2016) (quoting In re Lease Oil Antitrust Lit., 570 F.3d 244, 248 (5th Cir. 2009)). Intervention in patent cases is reviewed under regional circuit law. As such, Fifth Circuit law controls. Stauffer v. Brooks Brothers, Inc., 619 F.3d 1321, 1328 (Fed. Cir. 2010) (“We review the district court's denial of intervention under Rule 24 under regional circuit law. . . “).

         B. Permissive Intervention

         Even if intervention is not mandated as a matter of right, a court may nonetheless permit intervention if the party “[o]n timely motion . . . has a claim or defense that shares with the main action a common question of law or fact.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(b)(1)(B). “In exercising its discretion, the court must consider whether the intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the original parties' rights.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(b)(3). A court has full discretion to deny permissive intervention even where there is a common question of law or fact. New Orleans Pub. Serv., Inc., 732 F.3d at 471.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. ...


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