A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Entries for date: February 2022

Afif Kusuma, Unsplash

Effective today, the District of Delaware lifted its mask mandate for public areas:

1. Effective immediately, masking in public areas of the Court (lobby, corridors, elevators, restrooms, etc.) is no longer required. People may choose to wear a face mask at their discretion. Prior standing orders of the Court that imposed mask requirements are VACATED to the extent, and only to the extent, such orders imposed mask requirements.
2. Judges retain the discretion to impose mask requirements in their courtrooms as they see fit.

Delaware state courts are likewise ending their mask mandate, starting on Wednesday of this week.

In a message to the bar, Delaware Supreme Court Chief …

Bifurcated Cake
Henry Be, Unsplash

Bifurcation into liability and damages phases used to be common, with former Judge Robinson often splitting liability and damages, at one point saying that “bifurcation is appropriate, if not necessary, in all but exceptional patent cases.” Dutch Branch of Streamserve Dev. AB v. Exstream Software, LLC, C.A. No. 08-343-SLR, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76006, at *2 (D. Del. Aug. 26, 2009).

These days, bifurcation still happens here, but it is a bit less common than it was back then.

Earlier this month, though, Chief Judge Connolly raised bifurcation in a way I hadn't heard of, suggesting that the parties split infringement from invalidity and other issues, with jury deliberations in between:

At …

Apple with a bite
Dainis Graveris, Unsplash

Referring a motion to a magistrate, as Chief Judge Connolly recently noted, often fails to result in the efficiency gains one might expect, because it "inevitably results in objections to the magistrate judge's report and recommendation which the district court judge must review de novo." Fundamental Innovation Systems Int. LLC v. Lenovo (U.S.), Inc., C.A. No. 20-551-CFC, D.I. 68 (D. Del. Nov. 23, 2021) (referring to SJ motions).

This led me to wonder if objections to report and recommendations should be so common, i.e., do they have any real chance at success? Analyzing the results for objections to R&R's filed in Delaware patent cases in 2021, seems to show that they …

Fork in the Road
Jens Lelie, Unsplash

Ever since Judge Stark was confirmed to the Federal Circuit, one of the most common questions I've received is: what will happen to his current cases, and when will we know?

There have already been some reassignments to visiting judges, but few clear indications of what may happen in the bulk of Judge Stark's current cases. We got some more hints yesterday in this oral order from Judge Stark:

ORAL ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that this case will be reassigned to another judge and the pretrial conference (currently scheduled for March 24) and jury trial (currently scheduled for April 6) will be rescheduled by that judge. Accordingly, the current pretrial conference and trial dates are …

Today, we analyze the District of Delaware's propensity to grant stays pending IPR decisions, as compared to the Western District of Texas. Here are the big takeaways:

  • Prior to IPR institution, motions to stay are almost always denied in D. Del.;
  • Judge Albright of W.D. Tex. has denied 40% of motions (i.e. two motions) to stay pending instituted IPRs, but there is not much data available yet;
  • D. Del. has denied about 28% of motions (i.e. 16 out of 58) to stay pending instituted IPRs in the last four years;
  • D. Del. receives far more motions to stay pending IPR than W.D. Tex., and grants them just over half the time (~60% in the last 4 years, …

As frequent readers of this blog already know, some judges in Delaware have limited parties to a total of 10 terms for construction across all asserted patents.

We've noted at least one previous instance where Chief Judge Connolly seemed to limit the parties to 10 claim construction disputes. Last week, the Court made an even clearer statement on the issue.

The parties in MG FreeSites Ltd v. ScorpCast, LLC, C.A. No. 20-1012-CFC-JLH (D. Del.) filed their joint claim chart in advance of claim construction, and listed 15 terms in dispute. They also included a footnote smartly noting Chief Judge Connolly's practice not to permit argument on indefiniteness at the claim construction stage.

They then filed a stipulation …

Tristan Colangelo, Unsplash

The District of Delaware sometimes requires the parties to file joint status reports, usually either at dates set in the scheduling order (e.g. an "interim status report") or following developments in the case that require more information, like a stipulated stay that has expired, or after a communication from the parties regarding a development in the case.

Typically, by convention, plaintiff handles the initial draft of these reports—but not always. Either way, one side will send a draft, and the other side will prove its position, sometimes reflexively opposing whatever is in the initial draft. The final report will often be split, with "Plaintiff's position" and "Defendant's position," although sometimes the parties will agree to a …

Marcin Skalij, Unsplash

This month, COVID has not directly caused jury trial delays for the District of Delaware, though we don't know of any jury trials that went forward in February.

In the next few months, the Court has a busy docket, filled with patent cases and sprinkled with cases before visiting judges. In particular, Judge L. Felipe Restrepo, sitting by designation from the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, is scheduled to handle three out of the sixteen upcoming cases. Judge Stark is also scheduled to handle two upcoming jury trials, though this appears likely to change given his confirmation to the Federal Circuit.

February Jury Trials Off the Calendar

None of the expected February jury trials went forward, though no delay or cancellation was due to COVID.

  • 2/7/2022: Skeans v. Key Commercial Finance LLC, C.A. 18-1516-CFC-SRF (D. Del.): In this fraud/estate case, Plaintiff requested that the in-person pretrial conference be adapted into a virtual one after Plaintiff’s residential community went into a COVID lockdown, preventing his physical attendance. (D.I. 117). Thereafter, the trial was postponed due to "a change in the Court's trial calendar," with the parties' consent.
  • 2/14/2022: Chugai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. v. Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., C.A. 18-1802-MN (D. Del.): The parties stayed this five-day patent trial at the last moment, according to the docket. The Court previously rescheduled it from January due to COVID concerns for witnesses and attorneys traveling from outside the U.S. (D.I. 399).
  • 2/22/2022: Deshields v. JR Rents Inc., C.A. 20-1626-MN-SRF (D. Del.): Stipulated ...

Computer Screen
Arget, Unsplash

As we must have discussed in one of the prior 238,000,000 entries (estimated) on this blog, the Default Standard for Discovery requires an accused infringer to produce it's "core technical documents" early in the case (60 days after the scheduling conference), to allow the patentee to prepare its infringement contentions. This leads to the question of what exactly constitutes a "core technical document?" and, in particular, is source code a "core technical document"?

This question has gone largely unaddressed in the years since the Default Standard was adopted [editor's note: with at least one exception back in 2012]. This week, however, Judge Stark gave us a parting gift of a bit of clarity, holding that …

Surprise Monkey
Jamie Haughton, Unsplash

When filing briefs under seal, Attorneys often forget that they are eventually going to have to file a public version of everything they file under seal, including exhibits.

This happens a lot with summary judgment and Daubert briefs, where attorneys can sometimes be so deep in the weeds of the substantive portions of their motions that they don't have a lot of time to consider the mechanics of getting it on the docket. They may be eager to attach things to prove their case, but can lose sight of why it's not always be advisable to submit thousands of pages of exhibits.

This often comes to a head when redactions are due. Some Delaware judges have …