Illinois Computer Research, LLC v. Google Inc., No. 07 C 5081 (N.D. Ill.) (Pallmeyer, J.).
Judge Pallmeyer is presiding over this case, which began as a standard case of a patent holding company, Illinois Computer Research (“ICR”) suing a large defendant, in this case Google, for patent infringement. The complaint was a standard three page notice pleading complaint alleging that Google infringed ICR’s patents based upon its Book Search functionality – click here for the original complaint. But the case quickly morphed into a dispute between a law firm, Fish & Richardson (“Fish”), and its former partner, the inventor and former owner of the patents in suit Scott Harris. ICR amended its complaint adding Fish and turning it in to a speaking complaint alleging that Fish forced Harris to resign because of the suit against Google and seeking a declaratory judgment that Harris, not Fish, owned the patent in suit – click here for the amended complaint.
Fish answered the amended complaint – click here for the answer – and filed speaking counterclaims alleging that Harris breached his partnership contract and fiduciary duties, and seeking a declaratory judgment that Fish owned the patents – click here for the counterclaims. Harris responded with his own speaking counterclaims alleging tortious interference and defamation – click here for Harris’s counterclaims and click here for Fish’s answer. Shortly after Fish’s second answer, Google was voluntarily dismissed with prejudice, but the case regarding Harris and Fish continued.
Fish filed a motion for expedited discovery, which the Court granted in court, without an opinion detailing the discovery allowed. Fish also filed a Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings seeking to dismiss plaintiffs’ tortious interference and defamation claims. That motion has been briefed, but not decided yet. And last week, Fish filed a motion to amend its counterclaims and third-party complaint naming six additional entities – click here for the motion. The motion does not identify the new parties specifically except to say that some are unnamed Doe defendants and that they are all related or believed to be related to Harris’s and ICR’s law firm Niro Scavone. Fish appears to be making a Propat-style argument that some or all of the additional defendants have or had an interest in the patent in suit and, therefore, are necessary parties. I will cover these opinions as they come out, but in light of all of the coverage this case has been getting – for example, see this recent Troll Tracker post and this case timeline at Joe Mullin’s The Prior Art Blog which Mullin promises to update periodically – I thought readers would be interested in some detailed background of the case. More to come as the Court issues opinions.