A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


Entries for tag: Bifurcation

Order
Brett Jordan, Unsplash

Yesterday, Chief Judge Connolly issued new form scheduling orders for non-Hatch Waxman patent cases.

As always, they are worth reviewing in full, but here are some of the highlights.

Phased Trials

First and foremost, in cases where infringement is alleged, the new form scheduling order defaults to a phased trial with infringement first:

26. Willfulness and Damages. Unless otherwise agreed to by the parties and the Court, the trial will be phased such that the issues of willful infringement and damages will be tried only if there is a finding of infringement.

We noted back in February that Judge Connolly had done this in one trial, and we wondered if it might become a trend. Turns …

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 point 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 …

In a recent order, Judge Stark ruled that evidence of willfulness would come in during the liability phase of a jury trial in which liability and damages are being tried separately. The ruling was one of several issued in the lead up to the June jury trial in Sunoco Partners Marketing & Terminals L.P. v. Powder Springs Logistics, LLC, C.A. No. 17-1390-LPS.

In his ruling, Judge Stark noted that "[t]he Court's interest in conservation of resources disfavors Defendants' request,"...

Artists rendition of the author patiently awaiting the return of jury trials
Artists rendition of the author patiently awaiting the return of jury trials We Don’t Deserve Dogs, Marten Bjork, Unsplash

This week brought to light yet another unexpected side effect of COVID-19 -- it's now harder to win a motion to bifurcate.

This interesting tidbit came to light in Judge Hall's opinion in Evertz Microsystems Ltd. v. Lawo Inc., C.A. No. 19-302, D.I. 259 (D. Del. Feb. 23, 2021). The defendant there moved to bifurcate the infringement and damages cases into separate trials near the close of fact discovery. In denying the motion, Judge Hall noted that the prejudice to the plaintiff, and strain on the Court, of holding two separate trials was greater than it would normally be because it was unlikely the second trial could be scheduled for years:

As the parties both know, this Court currently has an extremely congested docket. It would be difficult to schedule an additional trial in this action; thus, Evertz would likely have to wait additional years to have full resolution of its claims.

Id. at 3.

Its also worth noting that Judge Hall called out the "fairly litigious" nature of the case, with the parties "raising numerous discovery disputes before the Court" leading to concerns that "bifurcating and staying the issue of damages will result in (1) duplicate discovery requests and disputes as those already resolved and (2) new disputes over what is appropriately part of the liability phase versus the damages phase" that would further tax the Court." ...