If Cascades does manage to move forward and win the case, it would have a significant impact on a growing industry made up of companies like RPX trying to protect vendors from patent suits. "It would be saying that these joint defense agreements in which companies take a common stance may be illegal under antitrust laws," Levine said.
"If this case has legs to it, this could present difficulties in a number of litigation contexts where defendants try to ensure that they keep a united front," he said.
Cascades may have specific reasons for filing this suit after previously suing Dell, HTC, and Motorola for patent infringement. "If they have any qualms about either the validity of the patents or whether device makers are possibly making the devices in always that don't infringe, then this may be an easier target in their eyes," Levine said. "One additional explanation would be to gain leverage in the infringement suit and try to bring the defendants to the table to negotiate a license."
Motorola declined comment on the suit. RPX said it is aware of the suit but doesn't comment on pending litigation. HTC is reviewing the complaint and doesn't expect to comment further on it, a spokesperson said.
Dell said it plans to defend itself against the allegations. "Cascades is alleging that by refusing to settle its unfounded patent infringement claims, Dell is engaging an unlawful conspiratorial refusal to deal with Cascades," it said in a statement. "Dell denies these new allegations, will defend the new case, and seek judicial relief against Cascades."
LG and Samsung did not reply to a request for comment.