Fellowes, Inc. v. ACCO Brands Corp., No. 10 C 7587 & 11 C 4229, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Nov. 10, 2011) (Leinenweber, J.).

Judge Leinenweber granted the Royal defendants’ motion to transfer the claims against them to the Northern District of Ohio, and consolidated the remaining claims against defendant ACCO, in this patent dispute involving various aspects of paper shredders.  There were five pending cases:

  • Royal filed two declaratory judgment cases against plaintiff Fellowes in the Northern District of Ohio.  Both were the first-filed suits on the respective patents-in-suit.
  • Fellowes responded to those suits by filing patent infringement suits against Royal.  ACCO was also a party to the suits, as well as another Fellowes brought against ACCO on additional patents.  This case is also interesting as one of the last cases where plaintiffs may file against unrelated parties in a single suit.
  • Fellowes also filed an additional suit against Royal in this District regarding anti-jitter technology in paper sensors.

The Court transferred all claims against Royal for the following reasons:

  • Royal’s first-to-file position was given some weight.
  • Royal, as a competitor of ACCO selling unrelated products, was misjoined in the second Fellowes suit.  And discovery efficiencies from a combined suit did not outweigh the joinder rule.
  • The location of witnesses and documents weighed in favor of transfer.
  • While maximum efficiency would result from consolidating all five cases, it would have come at a cost to Royal.

Left with just Fellowes’ claims against ACCO, the Court consolidated the ACCO cases because they involved the same parties and three related patents.  Furthermore, neither party opposed consolidation.