Judge Williams unsealed a detailed Pennypack decision Friday, where he struck an expert's infringement argument after the party failed to disclose it in their contentions.
The motion and brief provide some helpful context here. The defendant moved to strike material in the expert's opening report that apparently responded for the first time to arguments made in the defendant's non-infringement contentions. Cirba Inc. v. VMWare, Inc., C.A. No. 19-742-GBW, D.I. 1460 at 1 (D. Del. Nov. 28, 2022); Id., D.I. 1461 at 2-3.
The Court rejected an attempt to argue that the argument was "responsive" to a filing …
We talked earlier this year about a decision by Judge Burke that struck a parties' final infringement contentions under a good cause standard, and declined to apply the much looser Pennypack standard.
Today, citing Judge Burke's opinion, Judge Williams likewise declined to rely on Pennypackin striking late-served "Amended Final Invalidity Contentions":
According to the Court's Scheduling Order, Defendants must serve their Final Invalidity Contentions to Chervon by December 17, 2020, which they did so. D.I. 37 if 7(f). On July 27, 2022, Defendants served their Amended Final Invalidity Contentions. D.I. 316 at 1; D.I. 319 at 1. Defendants did not request leave from the Court to amend their Final …
Yesterday, Judge Williams issued a claim construction opinion in Persawvere, Inc. v. Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation, C.A. No. 21-400-GBW (D. Del. Feb. 21, 2023).
In the joint claim construction brief, plaintiff asserted that defendant had waived its indefiniteness arguments because it did not include them in its invalidity contentions:
Given that Defendant failed to raise an indefiniteness argument in its Invalidity Contentions concerning terms 3 and 4, see Ex. 8, Defendant has waived this defense.
D.I. 47 at 30. In the case, the scheduling order required both initial and final invalidity contentions; defendant did not mention indefiniteness in its initial contentions, and the deadline for final contentions had not yet passed.
In the before time, when the green grass grew tall even in the wan Wilmington sun, all scheduling orders had two rounds of contentions, one early in the case and another near the close of fact discovery. A bit over two years ago, Judge Connolly shook things up by introducing a new form order in his cases that included only a single round of contentions early in the case and requiring "good cause" to amend.
And so, on this slow news day, I decided to take a look back at how often parties manage to show the requisite good cause to amend their contentions in cases assigned to Judge Connolly (many of these are decided in the first instance by a magistrate judge).
The upshot is, that most of these motions seem to succeed. DocketNavigator shows 10 such motions in cases assigned to Judge Connolly (which strikes me as low, but I'm not a soulless trawling algorithm, so what do I know?). Of those 7 have been granted, and only 3 have been denied. Normally I would put in the percentages here, but I trust you all to do the math on this one.
This brings to mind another question, which I shall raise in a further blog post on another slow day, does Judge Connolly receive fewer motions like these than our judges who don't specifically require good cause? I.e., are parties who would otherwise just file late contentions and take their shot under Pennypack factors deciding not to do so because they know they can't show good cause?!
All this and more on next weeks episode of IPDE! (Batman theme plays)
I thought I'd share an old transcript that has come in handy a number of times since it issued back in2013, where Judge Andrews made a helpful ruling about how and when patentees must respond to conception date interrogatories—an issue that comes up frequently.
In Vehicle Interface Techs., LLC v. Jaguar Land Rover N. Am., LLC, C.A. No. 12-1285-RGA (D. Del.), the defendant filed a discovery dispute to compel a full response to an interrogatory asking for the date of conception and reduction to practice.
The patentee had responded, but the answer was not very helpful. According to the discovery dispute letter:
[The patentee] stated that the sole inventor . . …
This happened earlier this month, but I wanted to post about it since this is a recurring issue.
In Rex Computing, Inc. v. Cerebras Systems Inc., C.A. No. 21-525-MN (D. Del. July 8, 2022), defendant filed a discovery dispute to compel plaintiff to supplement its infringement contentions to explain how the cited source code meets those limitations.
Plaintiff responded, in part, by noting that these are "initial contentions while discovery is ongoing." D.I. 94 at 1.
Nonetheless, the Court ordered plaintiff to supplement its contentions to explain how the code meets the limitations:
ORAL ORDER . . . Plaintiff shall supplement its infringement contentions on or before July 18, 2022. Citations …
As we’ve said before, sufficiency of each parties’ contentions can vary a bit by judge, and holdings are difficult to research because they usually appear in discovery dispute teleconference transcripts that are not posted to the dockets.
However, we saw a written decision issued by Judge Burke last week that illuminated one of the Court’s potential approaches to a dispute over invalidity contentions. The Court proposed that, if Plaintiff would agree to narrow its claims, the Court would require defendants to reduce the number of combinations. When Plaintiffs refused, they still received relief, but it wasn’t as strong or as specific as the relief they might have gotten had they adopted the Court’s proposal.
Plaintiffs complained that Defendants’ response to a contention interrogatory was unduly vague and insufficiently fulsome. The interrogatory sought invalidity contentions under § 103 obviousness, and the response incorporated Defendants’ Joint Initial Invalidity Contentions, so the Court focused on the Initial Invalidity Contention document itself for its analysis.
The Court found that the Initial Invalidity Contentions were sufficient in most respects:
In general, they provide real detail, including significant specificity as to ...
Sufficiency of each parties' contentions is one of the most common issues in patent cases in Delaware. Both sides tend to want to know exactly what the other side plans to argue—ideally before claim construction. That way the parties can construe the terms that actually matter, and have straightforward dispute about whether the accused product and the prior art meets the claim elements.
Beyond that, both parties typically want the other side to be held to what they disclosed in their contentions. The rules generally prohibit a party from disclosing one thing and then arguing something else later, for no reason (although Third Circuit law can be remarkably soft on this point).
As discussed in a previous post, Judge Noreika now requires that Markman briefing occur after the exchange of final infringement and invalidity contentions. But the Judge's oral orders setting forth that requirement did not expressly anchor the Markman process or the contention deadlines to any other dates in the overall schedule.
As we pointed out in our last post, it would make sense to set those deadlines late in the fact discovery period: "Although this order encourages parties to exchange claim construction positions 'early in the case,' it seems likely that parties will propose later Markman deadlines in addition to earlier final contention deadlines, to ensure that sufficient fact discovery has occurred to create meaningful final contentions."
Judge Noreika recently offered additional guidance along these lines regarding the relative timing of contentions, fact discovery, and claim construction...
The question of what constitutes "good cause" is fact-specific, but Judge Connolly's form scheduling order does provide some helpful guidance:
Non-exhaustive examples of circumstances that may, absent undue prejudice to the non-moving party, support a finding of good cause include (a) recent discovery of material prior art despite earlier diligent search and (b) recent discovery of nonpublic information about the Accused Instrumentality which was not discovered, despite diligent efforts, before the service of the Infringement Contentions.
Recently, the plaintiff in Volterra Semiconductor LLC v. Monolithic Power Systems, Inc., C.A. No. 19-2240-CFC-SRF, moved to amend its infringement contentions. The motion was referred to Magistrate Judge Fallon.
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