Unidentified Patent Holder v. Does 1-24, Slip Op., No. 21 C 514 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 6, 2021) (Kennelly, J.).

Judge Kennelly ordered unidentified plaintiff (Doe Plaintiff) to show cause why the patent case should not be dismissed.

The Court noted that in many ways this was a typical “Schedule A” case in which a plaintiff IP holder sues multiple Doe defendants for alleged knock-off sales. The case was different in two important respects: 1) plaintiff sought to file anonymously; and 2) the asserted IP was a design patent, instead of a trademark.

Initially, the Court denied Doe Plaintiff’s motion to seal its identity, with leave to refile. Doe Plaintiff’s sole justification for remaining anonymous was that defendants subscribe to a service monitoring Northern District of Illinois filings for cases like this one. But the Court noted it was an inferential leap worthy of Olympian Bob Beamon that because defendants saw a suit against anonymous defendants, the specific defendants in suit would hide their assets.

Additionally, the Court ordered Doe Plaintiff to show cause as to how it could file a single patent suit against 200+ defendants for selling unrelated products. 35 U.S.C. Section 299. The Court noted that all defendants selling infringing products and some using identical advertising language were not sufficient. Doe Plaintiff did not assert that defendants were selling identical products or allege common facts.