A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


Science!
Hans Reniers, Unsplash

On Friday, Judge Andrews issued an opinion adopting a Special Master opinion, which held that certain pre-litigation testing documents were not covered by attorney privilege.

Pre-Litigation Testing Not Protected by Attorney-Client Privilege If Not Provided to Attorneys

The Court found that the pre-litigation scientific testing was not covered by attorney-client privilege, even though they may have been done "at the direction of" a law firm, because the core purpose was for the client's understanding rather than for facilitating legal advice:

I do not think [plaintiff] First Quality has shown that the attorney-client privilege applies to any of the [relevant] disputed . . . documents. Plaintiff's position is that everything [the expert] Dr. Malburg did falls "well …
MTD

Chief Judge Connolly issued an interesting opinion on Friday, denying a motion to dismiss a DJ complaint in favor of an earlier-filed infringement action in the Western District of Texas.

The DJ case is the second Delaware action between these parties. After Judge Connolly found the claims in the first case invalid under § 101, the patentee brought an infringement action in Texas on a "virtually identical" continuation patent.

Although the Texas case was filed first, Judge Connolly declined to apply the first-to-file rule. He based his decision not only on judicial economy (i.e., he had already devoted substantive attention to the earlier, "virtually identical" patent), but also on the patentee's "litigation gamesmanship":

Second, SmileDirectClub' …

All teed up
All teed up Will Porada, Unsplash

I come to you, loyal reader, with hat in hand. As a reporter on the indefiniteness beat, I pride myself on being on top of all the new developments in Delaware—but it looks like one slipped by me earlier this month—Judge Noreika has issued her first order finding a claim indefinite at Markman.

It should be noted that the claims at issue in Tracktime, LLC v. Amazon.com, C.A. No. 18-1518-MN, D.I. 89 (Mem. Order, July 7, 2021) were means-plus-function claims, which Judge Noreika found indefinite for lack of a corresponding structure in the specification. See id. at 14-15. These issues tend to be easier lifts at the Markman stage for all of …

March of the Trolls
Paulo O, CC BY 2.0

Continuing our theme, another subject that often comes up in defending NPE complaints is whether the NPE's often-lackluster complaint may be vulnerable to an FRCP 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss (and whether that motion can be brought economically).

Judge Connolly today dismissed a complaint by Swirlate IP, an (alleged) IP Edge entity, because the complaint mostly parroted the language of the claims and offered an unspecific website URL.

Here is an example of a typical paragraph from the complaint, which mirrors the claim language but also offers slightly more:

21. Upon information and belief, the Accused Instrumentality performs the step of performing the second transmission by transmitting the second data symbols over a …

In a short ruling issued in Deere & Co. v. AGCO Corp., 18-827-CFC, Judge Connolly rejected the defendants' motion for additional claim construction after IPR. The defendants had asked the Court to conduct further claim construction proceedings on three groups of terms, to account for allegedly inconsistent positions taken by the plaintiff during IPR proceedings on 8 of the 11 asserted patents. Judge Connolly explained that he entertained the motion for more claim construction "based on Defendants' repeated and emphatic representations that Plaintiff Deere & Company maintained . . . positions on claim construction [during IPR] that were 'diametrically opposed' to and 'fundamentally inconsistent' with positions Deere took during claim construction before me."

Judge Connolly, however, did not agree . . .

"Oh god. What did our expert just say?" Jamie Haughton, Unsplash

More and more NPE cases have moved to Delaware over the last few years, following TC Heartland. Defendants often try to deal with NPE cases by threatening fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285, with varying degrees of success.

A § 285 fees opinion today by Judge Stark offers an interesting data point as to what kind of conduct is not sufficient to render a case as a whole exceptional under § 285, as well as a lesson on how to best to pursue a fees motion.

In Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Trend Micro Inc., C.A. No. 12-1581-LPS (D. Del.), the patentee's …

As jury trials in Delaware continue to get back on track, the judges' trial calendars are jam packed for 2021 and 2022. What does this mean if you have an upcoming trial date and need to move it?

In some cases, you might be out of luck. Yesterday, Judge Andrews denied an unopposed motion to extend a case schedule that would have pushed trial from June 2022 to September 2022. The purpose for the request was to provide additional time to complete fact discovery.

In an oral order, Judge Andrews rejected the request outright:

The Parties say they need more time, but simply needing more time is not good cause. The Court's schedule is already completely full …

Sometimes Arguments Solve Nothing
Sometimes Arguments Solve Nothing Sarah Kilian, Unsplash

It's uncommon to see the Court dismiss an ANDA case before trial. The patents are usually grounded enough to avoid easy 101 issues, infringement is as likely to be conceded as disputed, and any other serious invalidity contentions are normally simply reserved for trial (none of our Delaware judges allow for SJ motions in ANDA cases without leave).

That being the case, Judge Stark's dismissal of the complaint in Almirall, LLC v. Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd., C.A No. 20-1373-LPS, D.I. 50 (D. Del. July 13, 2021) ("Almirall II"), via a 12(c) motion is worthy of comment merely because it dismissed an ANDA complaint on the pleadings before Markman. …

Yesterday, visiting Judge Bataillon excluded a patentee's expert opinion where the expert tried to use the doctrine of equivalents to skirt the Court's construction of a term.

The Court had initially rejected a preliminary injunction motion by the patentee, holding that it had failed to show a likelihood of success on infringement based on its proposed claim construction.

The patentee then proposed the same construction during claim construction before the magistrate judge, who issued an R&R rejecting it.

The patentee then objected to the R&R, but the Court adopted the construction in the R&R and again rejected the patentee's proposed construction.

Specifically, the Court held that the claims required two elements that each have a different thickness and composition: …

When parties seek to dismiss or stay a patent dispute in federal court in favor of arbitration pursuant to an agreement, someone needs to decide whether the parties' dispute falls within the scope of the agreement's arbitration provision (and is thus arbitrable). Whether that question is decided by the court or the arbitrator depends on the language of the agreement. So, in essence, the court must interpret the agreement for the limited purpose of divining the parties' intent (or lack thereof) to shunt arbitrability to the arbitrator.

In a recent order in Nidec Corp. v. Seagate Technology LLC, C.A. No. 21-52-RGA, Judge Andrews found...