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“Schedule A” Lawsuit

In intellectual property litigation within the United States legal system, incorporating multiple defendants into "Schedule A" (also known as "Appendix A" or "Exhibit 1") for a lawsuit is a specific legal procedure. This approach is commonly employed in cases involving multiple defendants or complex intellectual property issues.

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What is “Schedule A”?

In the U.S. legal system, "Schedule A" is a court document usually attached to a complaint. It lists all defendants in a lawsuit, which may include individuals, companies, or other legal entities. This method is particularly suited for cases involving multiple defendants, especially in intellectual property infringement cases.


Why use "Schedule A"?

In intellectual property cases involving numerous defendants, using "Schedule A" enhances efficiency and clarity. It allows the plaintiff to list all defendants in a unified complaint instead of filing separate lawsuits for each. This method helps the court and all parties clearly understand the case's scope and participants.


Case Management

When a case involves numerous defendants, "Schedule A" aids in simplifying case management. It facilitates easier tracking and updating of the defendant list, especially when some defendants may be added or removed.


Applicable Situations

This approach is commonly used in intellectual property class actions or multi-party litigation, such as copyright, trademark, or patent infringement cases. For example, if a plaintiff discovers that their patent has been infringed by multiple companies, they might use "Schedule A" to list all these companies as defendants.


Legal Procedures

"Schedule A" is typically submitted to the court as part of the complaint and is updated throughout the case. This requires plaintiffs and their attorneys to accurately track the progress of the case and the identities of the defendants.


Challenges and Limitations

Although "Schedule A" offers advantages in managing cases with multiple defendants, it may also introduce challenges, such as jurisdictional issues and complications with cross-border service procedures. Furthermore, to include all defendants in the same case, they must face the same or similar allegations.

By placing hundreds of defendants into a document known as "Schedule A" or "Exhibit 1," courts have loosely interpreted the rules for consolidating defendants, a method some scholars refer to as "Schedule A litigation." In such litigation, the defendants typically have no direct connection to each other. However, plaintiffs list a group of alleged infringers from an e-commerce platform as defendants in a single lawsuit, vaguely claiming a relationship among them without providing factual support.

Rule 20(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows for defendant consolidation only in cases involving the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions or occurrences. Simply having defendants on the same e-commerce platform infringing on the plaintiff's intellectual property does not meet this criterion. Independent internet sales of counterfeit goods by different individuals or entities do not satisfy the rule's requirements for transaction or occurrence, as their only commonality may be purchasing counterfeit products from the same or similar sources, with no other connection among them.

However, due to geopolitical competition and the scope of negative public opinion, as well as judges' consistent sympathy for intellectual property owners, judges might still overlook the flaws in consolidating defendants, showing a unique judicial leniency.


For example, in the case of Adidas AG v. THE INDIVIDUALS, heard by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the plaintiff filed a motion on June 12, 2023, to consolidate defendants and to serve the complaint and summons electronically. The reasons for consolidating the defendants were outlined in the motion:
          •    … Although each defendant caused direct individual harm to the plaintiff, their collective illegal activities had a multiplicative effect, resulting in indivisible harm. Logically, they are part of the same event. Thus, under Federal Civil Procedure Rule 20, consolidating the defendants in this case is appropriate. The defendants, aware of the illegal market and others' actions maintaining it, combined their actions, causing simultaneous, indivisible harm to the plaintiff and consumers by undermining fair competition, devaluing Adidas' trademark, increasing the plaintiff's marketing costs, and maintaining an illegal online market.
          •    The plaintiff cited a case from the Northern District of Illinois Federal District Court on February 19, 2020 (Bose Corp. v. The Partnerships and Unincorporated Associations Identified on Schedule "A"), where the court ruled that the collective harm from online counterfeiters constituted the same transaction or occurrence under Federal Civil Procedure Rule 20. This ruling supports consolidating defendants because they are part of a group attacking the plaintiff's trademark, viewing the group's actions as part of the same 'event' from a legal perspective.

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida approved the motion to consolidate defendants and to electronically serve the summons and complaint the day after the motion was submitted.  


However, in patent infringement cases, lenient decisions on consolidating defendants are unrealistic due to the America Invents Act (AIA), which amended 35 U.S.C § 299. The AIA stipulates that merely sharing infringing actions is not a valid reason for consolidating defendants. Before the AIA, the Eastern District of Texas court freely consolidated defendants, contributing to its popularity among patent owners. Defendant consolidation significantly decreased after the AIA's implementation.


Case Strategy

In some instances, employing "Schedule A" can act as a strategic measure, sending a strong message to potential infringers that the plaintiff is serious about protecting their intellectual property rights.

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