A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


Canada is a hard land. The weather is brutal. The moose, especially fierce. This isn't even touching on the whole hockey thing.

But the harshest part—worse than the indefatigable Mounties or the endless karaoke versions of You Oughta Know—is service.

Serving a Canadian is a real pain in the poutine.

AI-Generated, displayed with permission

Or so I thought.

Those with the misfortune of having to serve a foreign defendant will no doubt be aware of Rule Rule 4(f)(2)(C)(ii) which provides that a foreign individual may be served by "using any form of mail that the clerk addresses and sends to the individual and that requires a signed receipt." This rule applies to foreign corporations by way of Rule 4(h).

The issue I had always seen with service in this manner is that it's trivially easy for the defendant to simply ignore the registered mail. No signature, no return receipt, no service. It seems I was wrong about this.

The patentee in MG FreeSites Ltd. v. Scorpcast, LLC d/b/a HaulStars, C.A. No. 20-1012-MFK -- the "Haulstars"—indisputably had the clerk send the summonses to the foreign defendants (at this point I must admit that most of the defendants were actually Cypriot, but I know more about Canada so that's what I went with) via the ...

Judge Andrews issued an opinion today addressing the a motion to dismiss a trademark claim. As the Court explained, to make out a trademark claim, a plaintiff must show a likelihood of confusion. To assess a likelihood of confusion, the Court applies six-factors known as the Lapp factors.

The Court found, though, that when dealing with names as similar as "Javo" and "Javy," the Court can find the allegation of a likelihood of confusion plausible without having to resort to the full test:

I find Plaintiffs allegations of likelihood of confusion to be plausible. Javo and Javy, both made-up words (which might be suggestive of java, a term often used to refer to coffee), could easily be confused. . . . Both sides are in the coffee business. There are additional pleadings that are harder to evaluate at this stage of the case. I do not think assessing the likelihood of confusion from a full-blown Lapp factors analysis is appropriate. Plaintiff does not have to prove its case in its complaint. "[T]he existence of consumer confusion is a fact-intensive analysis that does not lend itself to a motion to dismiss." Applied Underwriters, Inc. v. Lichtenegger, 913 F.3d 884, 897 (9th Cir. 2019) (citation omitted). I agree. The motion to dismiss for failure to plausibly allege likelihood of confusion is denied.

Good to know!

That smoke is from the double-barrelled patent action/§ 1983 claim she just filed
That smoke is from the double-barrelled patent action/§ 1983 claim she just filed William Isted, Unsplash

The opinion also touched on a term you don't hear very often in the patent world: a "shotgun pleading."

Looking at the cases the Court cites—and with help from the internet—a shotgun pleading seems to be one that recites many (possibly jumbled) facts and vague claims in the hope that something sticks:

[A] shotgun complaint shifts onto the defendant and the court the burden of identifying the plaintiff's genuine claims and determining which of those claims might have legal support.

Adger v. Carney, C.A. No. 18-2048-LPS, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52533, at *17 (D. Del. Mar. 26, 2020).

Although the narrative text is chronologically organized, it does not set out separate claims but rather ...

We've talked quite a bit on the blog about navigating the concise statement of facts in summary judgment briefing. Judges Connolly, Noreika, Williams, Burke, and Hall all require one, and it's a common—yet severe!—stumbling block in the district which has hobbled many a fine brief.

Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz, Unsplash

Indeed, we talk about it so much that you could (almost) be forgiven for thinking that all of our judges require such a statement with their summary judgment briefing.

Judge Andrews, however, has never adopted the practice and actually does not allow parties to submit separate statements of fact (or at least, not ones that otherwise expand the page limits). He made this point quite clearly in an order last week responding to a motion to strike such a statement:

Defendant requests that I strike Plaintiffs rogue statement of uncontested facts, which Plaintiff opposes. (D.I. 197 , 198 ). I expect counsel to know my practices, whether written or unwritten. My practice for summary judgment motions does not permit what Plaintiff did. There is nothing in the scheduling order of this case or the later form order on the Courts website that would serve as encouragement for Plaintiff to do what it did. Neither, however, is there anything expressly prohibiting what Plaintiff did. Plaintiffs statement of facts, which has 12 pages of text, is (by eyeball) about 8 pages of facts that are scattered throughout its opening brief with about 4 pages of citations in support, which are omitted from the opening brief. Thus, Plaintiff has gained a 4-page advantage by committing something more akin to a traffic violation than a felony. I think the proportionate response is ...

"Gather 'round, fellow developers, while I tell you the age-old tale of how we we have an implied license to Sprint's patents." AI-Generated, displayed with permission

Here's one I haven't seen before. In Sprint Communications Company L.P. v. WideOpenWest, Inc., C.A. No. 18-361-RGA (D. Del.), the defendant apparently sought to admit company "folklore" in support of its implied license defense.

The Court found that this "folklore" was relevant to the implied license defense:

While arguing for its second motion in limine (D.I. 433), Plaintiff Sprint raised the issue of certain privileged communications. . . . Plaintiffs second motion in limine sought to exclude testimony about company "folklore" regarding a right to practice Sprint's patents. Defendants plan to assert the affirmative defense of implied license, supported by this "folklore" testimony from ...

"I knew we forgot something..." AI-Generated, displayed with permission

Yesterday Judge Williams issued an oral order in Board of Regents, The University of Texas System v. Boston Scientific Corporation, C.A. No. 18-392-GBW (D. Del.) addressing a dispute about whether plaintiffs could offer evidence of copying or other secondary considerations after they failed to disclose those argument until just before trial.

In a lengthy oral order, Judge Williams held that they had waited too long and are now precluded from offering evidence of copying or certain other secondary considerations.

According to the Court, plaintiff had failed to disclose its secondary considerations arguments despite numerous opportunities:

ORAL ORDER: . . . Plaintiff had several prior opportunities to advise [defendant] …

One of the phrases you least want to see on your docket is "deficiency notice." In the scale of bad docket entries it sits somewhere between "untimely" and "consumed by fire."

Worst of all, consumed by untimely fire
AI-Generated, displayed with permission

But alas, these notices come regardless, and in fact the last few weeks have brought quite a few that I hadn't seen before in Delaware. Example below:

DEFICIENCY NOTICE issued by the Court to defendants Alembic Pharmaceuticals Limited, Alembic Global Holding SA, an Alembic Pharmaceuticals, Inc defendant Nanjing Noratech Pharmaceutical Co., Limited: Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 7.1 (b)(1), A party must: (1) file the disclosure statement with its first appearance, pleading, petition, motion, response, or other request addressed to the court. Counsel for the defendant is requested to supplement the docket with an appropriate Rule 7.1 Disclosure Statement.

Novartis Pharms. Corp. v. Alembic Pharms. Ltd., C.A. No. 22-1395-RGA (D. Del. Jan 18, 2023).

As noted in the docket entry, Rule 7.1 requires parties to file a corporate disclosure statement with their "first appearance, pleading, petition, motion, response, or other request addressed to the court." This is easy enough to remember for plaintiffs, who usually ...

Roll the Dice
Leon-Pascal Janjic, Unsplash

Since 2021, Judge Connolly has occasionally issued orders asking parties to either consent to a magistrate judge or have their case re-assigned to a visiting judge. The parties in three out of five of that first round of cases consented, and we've seen several rounds of these orders since then.

The Court also offered parties a similar choice in the wake of the departure of Judge Stark, before Judge Williams was confirmed. I haven't seen hard numbers on this, but in May of last year we estimated that around 20% of those cases consented rather than waiting for the new district judge and risking re-assignment to a visiting judge.

These consent-or-visiting-judge referrals have continued through Judge …

Prego!
Prego! Krista Stucchio, Unsplash

An interesting note on the importance of translation -- and accurate translation -- from Judge Connolly last week in Doda v. Waste Management, Inc., C.A. No. 17-604-CFC (D. Del. Jan 13, 2022).

The plaintiffs were an Italian engineer and his companies who were doing business with an American firm pursuant to an NDA. The NDA required the parties to mark any confidential information "'Confidential,' 'Proprietary,' or [with] some similar designation." Plaintiffs alleged that defendant breached the agreement by disclosing such confidential information to the patent office, which later published it.

The issue? The "designation" was only in Italian.

In their posttrial Proposed Findings of Fact, Plaintiffs state that this paragraph [below a signature block …

Artist's rendition of a pretrial order printed without tabs
Artist's rendition of a pretrial order printed without tabs JJ Ying, Unsplash

[UPDATE: Thank you to all who flagged the typo in the original title. No, the irony is not lost on me that we had a typo in the word "careful"!]

Oof, this one may have been painful. Last month in Victaulic Company v. ASC Engineered Solutions, LLC, C.A. No. 20-887-GBW-JLH (D. Del.), the defendant apparently asserted at least two non-infringement defenses, one based on a "groove" limitation and one based on a "radius" limitation.

The defendant asserted the groove limitation defense in response to a summary judgment motion. Then, the following series of events occurred:

  • December 6, 2022: The Court denies the summary judgment …

Danger
Raúl Nájera, Unsplash

The District of Delaware is extremely busy. Sometimes clients and out-of-town counsel are surprised that they probably won't get rulings on their motions in the very-short-term. This often prompts questions like "Can we call the Court and ask them to rule on our motion?"—the answer to which is "no."

But in some instances parties really do need to alert the Court to a situation on the ground in the case that is impacted by a pending motion. The answer then is often to file a letter, which sometimes works.

We saw another successful letter this week. In Bataan Licensing LLC v. DentalEZ, Inc., C.A. No. 22-238-GBW (D. Del.), the defendant …