The Future of Multi-Defendant Patent Cases

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On September 16, 2011, President Obama signed into law the America Invents Act (AIA), which effectuated some of the most sweeping changes in the patent laws since the Patent Act of 1952. One such change under the AIA impacts a patent plaintiff’s ability to join accused infringers in a single action. Prior to the enactment of the AIA, patent owners such as non-practicing entities would oftentimes file patent infringement suits naming dozens of disparate co-defendants. The result was that multiple defendants were forced to coordinate a unified defense against the patent owner, despite the defendants having differing accused conduct. Section 299 of the AIA, entitled “Joinder of Parties” and which took effect upon enactment of the AIA, is designed to avoid this result.

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