The Delaware FBA held its annual meeting virtually today. It included really wonderful speeches by the judges, passing along the Chief Judge gavel in both the district court and the bankruptcy court.
The FBA also did a great job presenting the event via Zoom (did anyone else clap while sitting alone in their offices, or was it just me?!).
I won’t try to summarize everything that was said, consistent with our ongoing attempts—and failures—to keep our posts short. But here are some quick highlights that may be particularly relevant to IP/DE readers:
- Chief Judge Stark passed the gavel of Chief Judge to Judge Connolly, who will be new Chief Judge following the end of Judge Stark’s term on July 1.
- The Court (mostly Judge Andrews) has selected a total of 4 post-COVID juries so far, and has held 19 bench trials (including remote and partially remote) since the start of the pandemic
- The first post-COVID simultaneous jury trials are still set to go forward next month
- The Court's productivity barely slowed down during the pandemic, with productivity dropping less than 15% despite all of the adjustments that were necessary for remote work
- The judges and their staff are almost entirely back to in-person work
- Chief Judge Stark relayed that virtual proceedings have been “incredibly successful”
- The judges are enjoying not having to coordinate with one another to schedule in person hearings; in-person traffic to the courthouse is increasing
- The plan is to move to Phase 4 of the Court's reopening plan—the “new normal”—if conditions continue to improve through the summer
- Judicial conference now recommends 2 new judgeships for the District of Delaware, instead of just one
- The District of Delaware is the third-busiest district court in the country, after two districts that have a high number of MDL cases
- Visiting judges over the last seven years have taken a total of 498 cases, including 212 patent cases (no word on to what extent new cases will continue to be referred to visiting judges)
- The Court is working on constructing a new magistrate judge chambers and courtroom for Magistrate Judge Hall, which will be Courtroom 6D. Construction should be completed this year.
Highlights from the Court's Annual Report
I also attached the Court’s annual report below, which goes into much more detail on many of the topics from the meeting. Patent case filings were down in 2021—good news for plaintiffs that want to bring their cases here and get a quicker resolution:
Patent case filings remain about 40% of the District Court's case load (although likely much higher than that in terms of work load):
The remaining details are in the report attached below.