A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Entries for date: May 2021

These are not Pelotons.
These are not Pelotons. Jonathan Petit, Unsplash

In competitor cases, parties sometimes include Lanham Act claims alongside patent claims. That's what happened in Peloton Interactive, Inc. v. Icon Health & Fitness, Inc., C.A. No. 20-662-RGA (D. Del.), where both sides brought patent and Lanham Act claims or counterclaims.

Peloton moved to dismiss defendant Icon's Lanham Act counterclaims, which alleged that Peloton had made various false and misleading statements concerning things like whether the Peloton bike was the "first of its kind" and unique among its market, along with statements about Peloton music offerings.

Peloton argued that Lanham Act claims are subject to a higher pleading standard, relying on an old E.D. Pa. case from long before the Supreme Court's decisions on this issue in Twombly / Iqbal:

Peloton urges the Court to apply an “intermediate” standard that first appeared in Max Daetwyler Corp. v. Input Graphics Inc, 608 F. Supp. 1549, 1556 (E.D. Pa. 1985). The Court held, “[i]n litigation in which one party is charged with making false statements, it is important that the party charged be provided with sufficiently detailed allegations regarding the nature of the alleged falsehoods to allow him to make a proper defense.” . . . ICON argues that the standard articulated in Max Daetwyler is inappropriate because it was decided before Twombly and Iqbal. . . . Additionally, there is disagreement within district courts in the Third Circuit as to its applicability. . . .

Judge Andrews declined to apply the heightened standard, quoting

New Tricks?
New Tricks? Go to Charles Deluvio's profile Charles Deluvio, Unsplash

The Delaware Default Standard for Discovery, which has been around in its present form for about a decade now, applies to some extent in every Delaware patent case. Given how frequently discovery issues are litigated in Delaware, I was somewhat surprised to see a new ruling from Judges Connolly and Hall clarifying a bit of the Default Standard that I don't believe has ever come up before.

In addition to describing the initial exchange of contentions and the format for ESI production, the Default Standard also sets a presumptive limit on the time period for discovery:

Absent a showing of good cause, follow-up discovery shall be limited to a term of 6 years before the filing of the complaint, except that discovery related to asserted prior art or the conception and reduction to practice of the inventions claimed in any patent-in-suit shall not be so limited.

Default Standard Section 4(e)

The question that arose this month in LEO Pharma A/S et al v. Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd., C.A No. 20-1359-CFC-JLH, D.I. 60 (D. Del. May 25, 2021), was what is "follow-up discovery"? ...

Although the trend in D. Del. is to grant IPR stays post-institution, the inverse is also true: pre-institution have become much more difficult to obtain.

In an oral order denying a pre-institution stay last Thursday, Judge Burke took the opportunity to reiterate why these motions are generally denied:

[W]ith regard to the simplification factor, the Court (absent some unique circumstance not present here) does not see the wisdom in staying a case that is otherwise proceeding forward (with a schedule already in place), in favor of the occurrence of an event (grant of an IPR petition and subsequent institution of an IPR) that has not happened yet. The Court also notes that although, as a statistical …

Hopefully we can all stop seeing this image soon!
Hopefully we can all stop seeing this image soon! CDC / Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

Today the Court announced that it is proceeding to Phase 3 of the Court's reopening plan. According to the order, this means:

  • Simultaneous jury trials (!)
  • Reduction to 3 feet of social distancing
  • Masking required in all common areas
  • Masking in the courtroom is up to the individual judges

According to the Court's re-opening plan, this may also include a return to full staffing of the Clerk's Office (I'm not certain that hasn't already happened).

As set forth in the order, Phase 3 will start on June 7, 2021 which I believe is the start of the next scheduled jury trial.

The …

It is not uncommon for patent infringement plaintiffs naming multiple defendants to group those defendants in the complaint and make allegations of infringement generally, rather than separately detailing what wrongful acts each defendant is alleged to have done. The group pleading approach is not "impermissible per se," as Judge Burke recognized in a recent R&R, claims based on group pleading are subject to dismissal where they do not include "'enough facts to render it plausible that each defendant has performed at least one type of U.S.-related infringing act' or if it otherwise fails to provide each defendant with sufficient notice of the basis for the claims against it."

Trailer presumably carrying material facts
Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash

As we've previously noted, Judges Connolly, Noreika and Hall all require parties to submit statements of material facts with any summary judgment motions. We've also noted the dangers of listing unnecessary "material facts." A new decision from Judge Connolly, however, suggests that a barebones statement of facts can be just as dangerous.

Motion for Summary Judgment Denied For Discussing Material Fact Not Included In Concise Statement

The defendants in Amgen Inc. vs. Hospira, Inc., C.A. No. 18-1064-CFC, moved for summary judgment of non-infringement, and submitted an accompanying statement facts as required by Judge Connolly. See id., D.I. 205, 207. The thrust of their argument was that the process for making their product included an "intervening …

Yesterday, Chief Judge Stark addressed whether "judicial estoppel" prevents a defendant from taking one position in an uninstituted IPR petition and asserting a contradictory position during claim construction in the district court:

[Plaintiff] Sequoia contends that [defendant] Red Hat is judicially estopped from arguing for a narrower construction than it proposed during the IPR . . . . Judicial estoppel is only appropriate when: (1) the party to be estopped is asserting a position that is irreconcilably inconsistent with one she previously asserted; (2) the party changed her position in bad faith, i.e., with an intent to play fast and loose with the court, and (3) the use of judicial estoppel is tailored to address the affront to the …

In Delaware, Local Rule 7.1.2(b) sets deadlines for responding to motions, and states that

Except for the citation of subsequent authorities, no additional papers [other than the opening, answering, and reply briefs] shall be filed absent Court approval.

Based on this rule, parties file "notices of subsequent authorities" to present after-arising citations (and sometimes other content) to the Court.

But some attorneys disagree about just how much argument can accompany the "citation[s]" a notice of subsequent authority. The authority is mixed.

In some cases, the Court has declined to consider notices containing argument that are filed without leave. See, e.g., Forest Labs., Inc. v. Amneal Pharm. LLC, C.A. No. 14-508-LPS, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23215, at *51 …

Checkered Flag
Bas van den Eijkhof, Unsplash

Default judgments are uncommon in Delaware patent cases. In the rare instance where a defendant misses an answer deadline, the issue is typically resolved with minimal court intervention, either because the plaintiff agrees to an extension or the court sets aside the entry of default.

But in a recent case against Aston Martin, LLC (brought by Display Technologies, LLC), it appears that a default judgment might actually be moving forward. (Side note: it isn't clear to us whether the correct legal entity was sued or served, and we take no position on that front.)

The complaint was filed in February 2020, the summons was served in May, and the clerk entered a default in July. The plaintiff eventually moved for a default judgment in December, seeking an award of $75,000 to $1 million (based on damages estimates from a client affidavit).

On Monday, Judge Andrews recognized that it would "be necessary to have a hearing in order to determine the amount of damages[,]" but made clear that he wasn't going to take the plaintiff's word for the damages number ...

In a recent order, Judge Stark ruled that evidence of willfulness would come in during the liability phase of a jury trial in which liability and damages are being tried separately. The ruling was one of several issued in the lead up to the June jury trial in Sunoco Partners Marketing & Terminals L.P. v. Powder Springs Logistics, LLC, C.A. No. 17-1390-LPS.

In his ruling, Judge Stark noted that "[t]he Court's interest in conservation of resources disfavors Defendants' request,"...