A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Entries for date: September 2021

Judge Connolly issued an interesting opinion this week granting summary judgment of invalidity as to the three patents-in-suit under § 101, despite competing expert testimony regarding conventionality.

A 101 Motion Denied

Similar to Ariosa Diagnostics, Inc. v. Sequenom, Inc., 788 F.3d 1371, 1377 (Fed. Cir. 2015), the patents at issue in CareDx, Inc. v. Natera, Inc., C.A. No. 19-567 (CFC) (CJB), D.I. 183 (D. Del. Sept. 28, 2021) were directed to detecting a natural phenomenon -- here cfDNA in blood that signified a likely transplant rejection. The dispute between the parties thus largely focused on step two of the Alice framework and whether the method described in the patent was merely the application of well-known …

Pop quiz: What's the easiest way to get prior licenses tossed from your reasonable royalty analysis?

Judge Andrews gave the answer today in a lengthy post-trial opinion in a case involving car seat technology. After determining that the asserted patents were valid and not infringed, he turned to damages.

Both parties relied on prior licenses that "deal generally with childcare products" to support their reasonable royalty analyses, including one "related to folding strollers" and one that "involves embedded chips that can alert a parent as a child safety feature[.]"

Judge Andrews disregarded both licenses because there was no evidence of technological comparability:

Neither party has made clear why the folded stroller in Scotty or the chip-based child safety feature of …

The purpose of claim construction is to sort out the plain and ordinary meaning of claim terms to a person of ordinary skill in the art. However, where a party advances "plain and ordinary meaning," by itself, as a claim construction position, the other side and the Court may be left wondering what that party believes the meaning to be, and/or whether there is actually dispute about the meaning that requires Court action.

At least one former Judge in this District expressly forbade parties from arguing for "plain and ordinary meaning" alone, as it "effectively leaves claim construction in the hands of the experts rather than the court." But there are, as we have noted, situations where simply arguing for the adoption of the plain language of the claim term can be a viable claim construction position.

Although Judge Noreika does not make any blanket prohibitions in this regard, she has occasionally ordered parties to explain what they mean by "plain and ordinary meaning." For example...

We dug up a transcript.
We dug up a transcript. Jon Butterworth, Unsplash

Last week, in deciding a renewed motion to stay pending a § 101 motion to dismiss, Judge Burke commented on the likelihood of success of such motions:

The Court, having reviewed the parties' letters relating to Defendant's request to renew its motion to stay, . . . hereby ORDERS that the request is DENIED. . . . [I]n light of the circumstances here (including the statistical unlikelihood of prevailing on a Section 101 motion to dismiss as to each of the four separate patents−in−suit), the Court concludes a stay is not warranted.

Defendant had renewed the motion to stay after Judge Burke denied it in late April. That transcript was …

Oral argument is never guaranteed in D. Del. This means you need to be careful in paring back your briefs—anything that ends up on the cutting room floor might never see the light of day.

Case in point: On Friday, Judge Stark issued an order denying a motion for a preliminary injunction in a competitor case (seeking to require the defendant to withdraw several pending IPR petitions). Both sides requested oral argument, and the plaintiff requested an expedited hearing.

Instead of holding argument, Judge Stark summarily denied the motion on the papers. In a single paragraph, he held that the plaintiff "failed to persuade the Court" on any of the preliminary injunction factors, and noted that a full …

The Eccentric, Possessed Photography, Unsplash

Anticipation and obviousness naturally have quite a bit in common. You frequently see the defenses listed in the alternative like, "the Velma reference anticipates the '666 Patent, or, in the alternative, The Velma reference in combination with the Daphne, Fred, and Shaggy references renders the '666 patent obvious." Indeed, you see this so commonly, that you might wonder if it's even necessary to specifically include the anticipation argument in your contentions/ expert reports/ pretrial order/ etc., since more or less all of it will be included in the obviousness case.

The answer is yes, you do have to include it. It is, in fact, very bad if you don't.

The defendant in BioDelivery Scis. …

Yesteday, Judge Stark issued an opinion on various discovery disputes and objections in Natera, Inc. v. ArcherDX, Inc., C.A. No. 20-125-LPS (D. Del. Sept. 21, 2021). Here are a few helpful nuggets from the opinion:

He declined to order defendants to respond to 30(b)(6) topics like the following, except for identifying "all persons substantively involved" because that language is "vague and overbroad":

The research, development, design, testing and validation of each of Your Accused Products, including when they were developed and identity of all persons substantively involved in their design and development.

He ordered defendants to produce a corporate witness on the following topic, including an order to describe contemplated and future filings with the …

Damages experts in patent infringement cases typically rely upon the Georgia-Pacific factors to guide their reasonable royalty analysis. Those factors are designed to predict the result of a hypothetical (and thus, fictional) negotiation between the parties, had the parties been willing participants in such a negotiation. But it is important to remember that the starting point for the application of the Georgia-Pacific factors must be tied to the facts of the case, like the factors themselves.

Late last week, Judge Andrews excluded a plaintiff's damages expert for his use of a 50/50 starting point for the hypothetical negotiation that was not sufficiently linked to the facts, as required by Federal Rule of Evidence 702.

The issue came to Judge Andrews...

Daniel Herron, Unsplash

We've written about how Chief Judge Connolly has taken a stand on willfulness and indirect infringement allegations, ruling unambiguously that a lawsuit itself cannot be the basis for knowledge of infringement to support a claim of willfulness or inducement.

Today, he took it one step further, granting summary judgment of no willfulness even though plaintiff accused new products that were released after the complaint:

Boston Scientific's . . . argument is that summary judgment is precluded because "Nevro was put on notice of Boston Scientific's [#]933 and [#]193 Patents and its infringement of those patents at least as early as December 9, 2016, when Boston Scientific filed its 2016 Complaint," and "[r]ather than make any effort …

Most summary judgment motions in patent cases are denied. That's one reason Judge Connolly issued a standing order earlier this year requiring that parties rank their summary judgment motions and explaining that in most cases he will not consider a party's summary judgment motion if he has previously denied a summary judgment motion by that party.

Judge Connolly noted that "the complexity, voluminous record, competing expert testimony, and scorched-earth lawyering in the typical patent case make it almost inevitable that a disputed material fact will preclude summary judgment." Nonetheless, he expressed hope "that an effectively managed summary judgment practice can bring about efficiencies and cost savings."

A few days ago, in Chromadex, Inc. v. Elysium Health, Inc., C.A. No. 18-1434-CFC, Judge Connolly granted a motion for summary judgment of invalidity under 35 U.S.C. § 101, just weeks before trial...