Including Droplets, the MDL panel reviewed 11 requests related to patent litigation in 2012 and granted seven. An additional motion, filed in November, is being briefed.
By comparison, the panel authorized two patent MDLs in 2010 and five in 2011.
Perhaps as expected, plaintiffs seem to be pursuing centralization slightly more often than those sued for infringement. Of the 12 patent MDL petitions this year, plaintiffs initiated eight matters, compared to four motions filed by defendants.
Notably, in every 2012 case where a patent holder's request for centralization was granted, the matter was sent to a venue favored by defendants. Since the America Invents Act, no patent MDLs have been sent to the Northern District of California.
Powers said the MDL option has benefits that appeal to plaintiffs and defendants in patent cases, depending on the circumstances.
"From the plaintiffs point of view, you don't want six different claim construction rulings. It's a way of consolidating cases," he said. "If you're a defendant and don't want to be where you are, it gives you a basis to get in a different court."
But it does involve an element of risk, Powers said. "You don't control which court. You may or may not get to a court you want."
This article originally appeared in The Recorder.