A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Clerks frantically tallying prior art references and combinations
Clerks frantically tallying prior art references and combinations Brown Abaca, Crissy Jarvis, Unsplash

This blog could be nothing but disputes about claim narrowing. We'd have 72,000 posts a year and we'd never get to the bottom of all the little sub-disputes, and how each judge prefers to handle them. I'm sure it would be quite popular.

This week in IPA Technologies Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., Judge Andrews clarified his position on one of the more common disputes -- how exactly to count "references" for the purposes of narrowing.

The defendant, Amazon, had been ordered to reduce the number of references in its invalidity contentions and had responded by limiting itself to 4 prior art "systems." The …

Previous equations for deciding whether to join an existing IPR
Previous equations for deciding whether to join an existing IPR Roman Mager, Unsplash

Today the Federal Circuit held that a party joining an existing IPR is not subject to estoppel on any grounds other than those that were actually raised. See the opinion below.

Before this, a plaintiff could argue that a defendant who joined an in-progress IPR was estopped on any anticipation or obviousness arguments that "reasonably could have [been] raised" in the IPR.

The Court here held, in short, that because a defendant joining an existing IPR is not allowed to add new grounds at all, it cannot be estopped except on those grounds actually raised.

It relied on the Facebook decision we talked about …

It's interesting that the Court is now regularly offering public access information for remote hearings. I can't recall it doing that before the coronavirus.

The only pre-coronavirus remote hearings I can think of were for scheduling and discovery dispute conferences, where public access is not usually a concern. Scheduling conferences often took place privately in chambers even when they were in-person, and discovery dispute conferences often involve confidential information anyway. It looks like they judges are still handling these how they always have.

These days, however, the Court regularly holds all kinds of other, more substantive hearings remotely, and most of the judges have been taking steps to allow the public to attend. Here is what the judges have been …

Wilmington, <a href='#' class='abbreviation' data-toggle='tooltip' data-placement='top' title='Delaware'>DE</a>
Wilmington, DE Andrew Russell, CC BY 2.0

In an opinion today, Judge Andrews laid out his updated thoughts on transfer motions, particularly in light of COVID-19 travel restrictions and the related difficulties.

Here are some interesting points re: his views:

  • In granting transfer, he focused on the fact that the Plaintiff's principal place of business was not Delaware
  • He held that convenience of counsel is irrelevant, because parties can choose their counsel.
  • As far as court congestion, he noted that "[o]ne other Delaware judge and I each individually had more old cases than the entire Western District [of Washington]," and that the Judicial Conference has recommended …

Where a patentee asserts indirect and/or willful infringement claims in its complaint, but does not allege facts showing pre-suit knowledge or intent with respect to the asserted patent(s), the following question arises: Can the original complaint provide knowledge of the patents-in-suit sufficient to support claims for post-suit indirect/willful infringement? It turns out the answer to that question is both yes and no, as Judge Burke explained in a September 22 Report and Recommendation in ZapFraud, Inc. v. Barracuda Networks, Inc., 19-1687-CFC-CJB.

Judge Connolly today struck portions of an expert report where the expert opined that the accused product did not infringe because it included extra components in addition to what was claimed in a means-plus-function claim element.

This is contrary to the well-established principle that additional structure does not preclude infringement of an MPF claim element, if the required structure is also there.

Here is an example of the excluded text, as quoted by the Court:

Dr. Vallee points, without much explanation, to various structures on the JoistPro' s safety mechanism as allegedly meeting the required structure of the claimed "push portion[."] However, Dr. Vallee fails to explain how his identified [structures] work together to achieve the function of the claimed …

Judge Bryon issued an interesting stay opinion last Friday.

The plaintiff had initially asserted six patents. Of those, four were dismissed under § 101, and the claims as to one of the remaining patents were severed and stayed pending IPR.

The case was set to go to trial on the last remaining patent on November 30, just over 11 weeks from the date of the order. But, last month, the PTO granted a request for ex parte reexamination of the sole asserted claim of that patent.

Shortly after that, Judge Bryson issued his opinion granting a motion to stay pending re-exam. A couple of interesting points:

  • What a turnaround! Defendant first indicated it intended to request a stay …