A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


Entries for date: February 2024

Disappointment Ice Cream
Sarah Kilian, Unsplash

In Exeltis USA, Inc. v. Lupin Ltd., C.A. No. 22-434-RGA-SRF (D. Del.), plaintiff asserted infringement of claims from six patents. Back in July, 2023, Judge Andrews ordered the plaintiff in to narrow its case to seven asserted claims across all of the patents prior to trial, which is set for Monday, February 23, 2024.

On Tuesday of this week, the Court issued its ruling on several pre-trial claim construction disputes. Plaintiff lost some of the disputes and, apparently, decided that it needed to stipulate to non-infringement of that claim.

With one of its seven claims out of the case, and with less than a week to go before trial, Plaintiff sought leave to re-assert …

When I was maybe 12, my class took a trip to the public library and we were told to pick up books on our likely future careers. This was before blogs were invented, so I had to find something else. I ended up getting a book on electrical engineering and a book on screenwriting -- which I suppose adds up to within a rounding error of patent blogger.

I don't remember much of the electrical engineering (obvs) but I vividly recall the chapter on capturing your characters' vernacular. There was an example scene of a clandestine drug purchase, wherein the dealer refused to sell due to nearby police. Looking back, I think the author had a problem. It went like …

Goodbye, inconvenient 30(b)(6) testimony
Goodbye, inconvenient 30(b)(6) testimony AI-Generated, displayed with permission

FRCP 30(b)(6) allows a party to notice the deposition of a corporation or other organization on a list of topics. That organization then presents one or more designees to testify on its behalf at deposition. The designee's testimony is treated as that of the corporation.

At trial, it's not unusual for a party to want to play the 30(b)(6) deposition testimony of an opposing party, even if the designee who gave the testimony also happens to be testifying as a fact witness.

Why? Because, often times, the party got exactly what they wanted out of the 30(b)(6) witness on some topic, and if they play the video they can be assured that …

I want you to take a deep breath and imagine yourself in the heady days of 2015. Every night you enjoy the newly released Doritos' loco taco. Every morning you practice the harlem shake. Game of Thrones has so much promise. Life is good.

This was really my peak
This was really my peak AI-Generated, displayed with permission

For the patent litigator (e.g., everyone reading this), the law is in an interesting place. Form 18 is about to be abolished, and there is a great deal of of hemming and hawing about how much detail will need to be included in a complaint for patent infringement. Yours truly even jumped on the hype train and wrote an article on it for Landslide (other than the Alice Cooper reference in the title, which I think went largely unnoticed, it bears little resemblance to the current blog).

For defendants, things were trickier still. The question of what level of detail was required for pleading the usual counterclaims of noninfringement and invalidity was even more up in the air. Several Delaware decisions even held that greater particularity was required for counterclaims than infringement claims. For instance, Judge Robinson made the following statement in dismissing invalidity counterclaims in Senju Pharm. Co. v. Apotex, Inc., 921 F. Supp. 2d 297, 302 (D. Del. 2013):

the fact that Form 18 (rather than Twombly and Iqbal) remains the standard for pleading infringement claims is an insufficient justification for deviating from Twombly and Iqbal for pleading other causes of action . . . Therefore, the court concludes that the pleading standards set forth in Twombly and Iqbal apply to counterclaims of invalidity.

Thankfully these seas ...

Disappearing Zebra
Neil and Zulma Scott, Unsplash

Judge Burke addressed a situation yesterday in BT Americas, Inc. v. Palo Alto Networks, Inc., C.A. No. 22-01538-CJB (D. Del.) where a defendant moved to stay pending IPR, but the patent-in-suit wasn't actually part of the IPR.

You may be thinking—huh? How did that situation come up?

The plaintiff apparently brought suit on two patents, and the defendant moved for IPRs on both. The PTAB instituted on the first one, and declined to institute on the second. When the defendant notified plaintiff of their intent to request a stay, the plaintiff immediately dismissed the first patent with prejudice—leaving only the second patent, which was not the subject of any IPR.

The defendant nonetheless charged ahead with its motion to stay, arguing that it should get a stay anyway:

A stay of the suit pending resolution of PAN’s instituted IPR petition on the ’641 patent will streamline the issues in this case, even if the ’641 patent is dismissed. . . . Regarding the ’237 patent [which is not subject to an IPR], a stay is appropriate regardless of whether the ’641 patent is dismissed because there is substantial overlap between the two Asserted Patents. Both patents share an identical specification and the claims of the ’237 patent substantially overlap with the claims of the ’641 patent. . . . Indeed, during motion to dismiss briefing, the parties and the Court treated claims 14 and 18 of the ’237 patent as representative of all asserted claims of both patents. . . . Even BT’s infringement contentions are replete with internal cross-references, repeatedly relying on the “mapping” of representative ’237 patent claims to argue infringement of the ’641 patent. . . . The PTAB’s institution decision on the ’641 patent relies on the same evidence to demonstrate a reasonable likelihood of success as the PTAB’s decision on the ’237 patent for corresponding claim limitations.
. . .
Because of this significant overlap, the PTAB’s final written decision as to the ’641 patent could dramatically simplify the case or, at the very least, would be highly instructive as to the ’237 patent. The reasoning and written record from the PTAB on the instituted IPR will be relevant to at least claim construction and invalidity of both Asserted Patents. Accordingly, a stay will remove the possibility of onerous, redundant, and potentially inconsistent rulings, and narrow the issues in this case. . . . A stay will thus conserve judicial and party resources as to validity of the Asserted Patents.

Id., D.I. 101 at 1-2. The Court did not buy ...

Judge Williams dealt with an interesting indefiniteness argument this week, which doesn't appear to have been previously addressed by the Federal Circuit or a Delaware Court.

Javier Quiroga, Unsplash

The issue arose in construing the term "real-time"—which is the sort of term that frequently sees an indefiniteness challenge. The defendant in B.E. Tech., L.L.C. v. Twitter, Inc., C.A. No. 20-621-GBW (D. Del. Feb 13, 2024) (Mem. Op) made all the usual arguments that the scope of the term was unclear—did it include something happening minutes later, hours, years!?—which Judge Williams rejected citing numerous cases successfully construing "real-time."

The defendant also raised the novel (to Delaware) argument that the term, which appeared only in a dependent claim, was indefinite because it was not clear what it added to the independent claim.

The independent claim was your classic software gobbledy-gook complete with "one or more servers" and selections "based at least on information." I won't bore you with it, but the thrust was that you use cookies to send targeted ads.

The gist of the defendant's argument was that this independent claim necessarily involved "real-time" ad-service. So, a person seeing a dependent claim that added "real-time" would be confused, hence, indefiniteness.

Judge Williams disagreed, finding the claim term not indefinite:

Defendants provide no authority supporting the proposition that a Court should find a dependent claim indefinite when it claims overlapping subject matter with either an independent claim or another dependent claim. Indeed, the Court has found no authority supporting this proposition, and voluminous authority rebutting it. The Court follows this line of authority: that two claims may have the same meaning does not inherently render them indefinite. Thus, Defendants' primary argument fails as a matter of law.

Id. at 5-6 (internal citations omitted).

Although unsuccessful here, it's a neat argument that I was surprised I hadn't seen before. We'll keep you in the loop if it comes up again.

TTFN

Searching with Search Terms
AI-Generated, displayed with permission

This is a dispute I've seen come up in a few cases. The D. Del. Default Standard for Discovery includes a provision about search terms, setting forth that if a party uses search terms to locate responsive documents, it must disclose the search terms and allow the opposing party to request up to 10 additional terms.

This provision can cause some confusion. Sometimes parties read the Court's Default Standard, see the search term provision, and think that's the only way to collect ESI. Or, sometimes, a party really wants to dictate search terms to the other side, and argues that the Default Standard requires the use of search terms.

It doesn't. A party can elect …

laim construction is one of the classic decision points in patent litigation. Like the cherry blossoms portend spring, a ripening Markman signals to litigants that the season of claim narrowing and expert reports has come at last.

AI-Generated, displayed with permission

But sometimes the winter is long and cold. Although several of our Judges formally endeavor to issue a Markman decision within 60 days of the hearing, their busy dockets often make that impossible. You'll thus sometimes see the parties try and push off the various deadlines that would normally be a bit easier with a Markman in place—most notably expert reports, which otherwise might have to be done with alternative constructions.

(Eds. note - an earlier draft of this post extended the spring metaphor a further two paragraphs. I think Valentine's Day is affecting me.)

An Oral Order from Judge Burke last week serves as a reminder that the lack of Markman order is not good cause per se to push those other deadlines. The Markman hearing in Bausch & Lomb Inc. v. SBH Holdings LLC, C.A. No. 20-1463-GBW-CJB (D. Del. Feb. 9, 2024) (Oral Order), was originally scheduled for June 2023, with opening expert reports due the next February. The hearing was rescheduled to September 2023, however, shortening the interregnum. When Judge Burke issued a statement on the docket notifying the parties that the Order would not be issued within 60 days of the hearing, the defendant moved to amend the schedule so that expert reports would not be due until 90 days after the order (with all subsequent events occurring a proportionate time after that).

Plaintiff opposed, however, noting that ...

"Hang on, judge. You can't just rely on what is in our letter briefs. We filed those three days ago!" AI Generated, displayed with permission

Judge Burke issued an oral order late last week addressing a discovery dispute where a defendant requested that the Court order plaintiff to apply more e-mail search terms. He denied the request, noting that the parties were clearly still meeting-and-conferring:

ORAL ORDER: The Court, having reviewed the portion of the pending motion regarding discovery disputes, (D.I. 198), in which Defendant requests that the Court order Plaintiff to utilize 24 additional ESI search terms ("Defendant's request"), and the briefing related thereto, (D.I. 204; D.I. 212; D.I. 214), hereby ORDERS that Defendant's request is DENIED, without prejudice to renew. That request, as briefed, is clearly unripe. In the briefing, the parties, including Defendant, alternatively described the issue as one as to which the parties were: (1) "continu[ing] their meet and confers [such that Plaintiff] offered some supplemental ESI searches and... [Defendant] requested some modifications[,]" (D.I. 204 at 2); (2) "still negotiating on the scope of additional search terms and are not at an impasse" and "working... to narrow the additional search terms[,]" (D.I. 212 at 1); and (3) "continu[ing] to discuss matters" in that Defendant "intends to submit new search terms [that] should resolve all of [Plaintiff's] alleged criticism" such that the matter "should be resolved" in the future, (D.I. 214 at 1).

Topia Technology, Inc. v. Egnyte, Inc., C.A. No. 21-1821, D.I. 226 (D. Del. Feb. 9, 2024).

He explained why the Court requires parties to ...

Stick figure breaking a chain
AI-Generated, displayed with permission

All of the sitting judges in the District of Delaware require, in their form scheduling orders, that each party (or each side) may file no more than three motions in limine.

But winning a MIL can really change the scope of trial by precluding key evidence or arguments. In complex patent cases, parties very often want more (sometimes many more) than three MILs to shape the trial in their favor.

One common attempted solution is to merge multiple MILs together. Instead of "exclude late-disclosed doctrine of equivalents theory" and "exclude a late-disclosed exhibit related to copying," a defendant might file a MIL entitled "exclude untimely theories and evidence" that relates to both of those things, …