I told you all! I told you we'd hear about this case again! Did you listen? No! I was called a fool, a madman! But who's laughing now! Whhoooo's laughing nowwwwwww!
I speak of course of the Federal Circuit decision in Hantz Software, LLC v. Sage Intacct, Inc., No. 2022-1390, 2023 WL 2569956 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 20, 2023). As we discussed last time, when I made my dire warning that you fools failed to heed, the Federal Circuit there reversed the district court judgment invalidating several unasserted claims under 101, noting that the Plaintiff had taken pains to clarify that only 4 specific claims were at issue, …
Over the last couple weeks, I've been tasked with going through the pile of resumes the firm received for various OCI's. Presented with a spreadsheet and 3,000 page pdf of resumes and related ephemera, I diligently set to work ranking the applicants with helpful notes for a second round of review.
At the start of the day, this usually looked something like:
Tier 1, obviously read Plain English For Lawyers and had good grasp of more difficult bluebooking rules, vacationed in Rehoboth as a youth, Likes crabs.
Inevitably, though, as the day wore on, my blood sugar would slowly sink until they looked more like:
Tier 1000, name rhymes with fart, hard pass
This was usually my cue to stop and revise my last couple entries the next day.
A Tale of Rising Spirits
During law school my wife and I would frequently kill a couple hours on a weekend going to tastings at the 100 or so wineries around Ithaca that ranged from "pretty good" to "proof that karma is real and that you were a mosquito in a past life."
One of the rules of a tasting trip is to spend your money fast and early. The farther into the trip you get, the looser the standards. We forgot this rule one summer—returning for a visit after several years—and set out for a 10 winery tour with high spirits.
At the 8th winery, I smelled my glass, thought for a moment, and passed it to my wife.
"what does this smell like to you?"
She sniffed and grimaced, responding, "cat pee?"
"Exactly," I said. "It's not bad otherwise though."
We bought a case, which sits in my basement to this day "aging."
The Legal Implications
I bring this up not (only) to pad the post, but instead to ask if either phenomena can be observed in the Court. To put a finer point on it—is there some correlation between how many times a given judge has decided a motion, and how likely they are to grant it?
I don't ask this question in a vacuum. The Court's recent round of referrals to visiting judges have caused litigants to consider whether they might be better off with a judge sitting in one of the busiest patent courts in the nation, or a visiting judge with a less extensive track record in patent matters (generally speaking, as you'll see below several of the visiting judges have a huge number of prior patent cases). Naturally, there is some value in having more data points on a judge regardless of any substantive effect, but one wonders: am I better off posing my motion to a judge who's seen the like 1,000 times, or 10?
The methodology here was simple. Pick a fairly common issue (I chose 101 motions) and chart ...
A while back I wrote a post about the relative success rates of 101 motions before the different Delaware Judges. To prove once and for all that I sometimes ramble, that entire post can be distilled to the chart below:
Chief Judge Connolly - 70% of § 101 motions granted
But that was then, dear reader, before we had a new hotshot on the bench who is batting 1.000. If I knew how to use this site better, I would put Judge Williams at the top of this chart in flashing lights with …
As we discussed earlier this week, Judge Stark's last § 101 day (maybe ever) was a real coup for the patentees, with all 6 patents surviving. This is, of course, the ultimate continuation of a years-long trend in these hearings with § 101 motions facing harsher and harsher odds.
What we at IP/DE have not discussed is how this trend compares to the averages for our other judges. Running the numbers on the 10 most recent rule 12 motions on 101 issues, the results are as follows:
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 …
On Monday, Judge Andrews addressed a plaintiff's attempt to cure a § 101 dismissal by amending its complaint—certainly not something you see every day.
Earlier in the case, Magistrate Judge Fallon issued an R&R concluding that one of the asserted patents was directed to ineligible subject matter. Judge Andrews adopted the R&R and granted dismissal without prejudice.
The plaintiff then filed an amended complaint, which contained "eight new paragraphs with allegations . . . tout[ing] the supposed advantages and improved methods of the" previously dismissed patent.
Judge Andrews found that these allegations were not enough to avoid dismissal, granting partial dismissal of the amended complaint with prejudice:
These allegations do not resolve the issues that the Magistrate Judge …
Judge Andrews just issued some tough guidance for parties thinking about filing R&R objections in D. Del.
The entire order is worth a read, but the most interesting tidbit is in the first footnote. Magistrate Judge Burke issued an R&R on a motion to dismiss, where he recommended dismissing the plaintiff's indirect infringement claims (without prejudice) and denying the defendant's § 101 motion.
Judge Andrews wasted no time overruling the plaintiff's objection to the dismissal of its indirect infringement claims, noting that:
Plaintiff’s argument has no impact on this case; Defendant wisely did not waste paper filing a response.
Although Judge Andrews spent more time discussing the defendant's objections, he quickly dispatched several arguments that were raised only …
This blog is for general informational purposes. It is not an offer to perform legal services, and should not be considered a substitute for legal advice. Nothing in this blog should be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. If you have legal questions, please consult counsel in your jurisdiction.