Joseph J. Farnan: Earlier D. Del. Litigation Cannot Defeat First-Filed Rule

Can earlier litigation on the same patent and in the same court justify a departure from the well-worn first-filed rule? According to District Judge Joseph J. Farnan Jr., it does not. The DJ plaintiff, who had earlier been sued in the Eastern District of Texas, argued against transfer there based on prior Delaware litigation involving the same patent.

The Court rejected this argument, holding that the earlier case did not constitute a “special circumstance” justifying a departure from the first-filed rule. Because that litigation involved a different Delaware judge, the Court could not be “substantially more familiar” with the patent-in-suit than the Texas district court. With no other aspects of the dispute favoring litigation in Delaware, the Court transferred the case.

Comcast Cable Communications LLC v. USA Video Tech. Corp., C.A. No. 06-407-JJF (D. Del. April 29, 2008) (Farnan, J.).

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