A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Entries for tag: Discovery Dispute

Ajeet Mestry, Unsplash

Last week Magistrate Judge Burke ruled on a core technical documents dispute in The Nielsen Company (US), LLC v. TVision Insights, Inc., C.A. No. 21-1592 (D. Del.). The defendants sought to avoid production of core technical documents for a product that was accused but that could not infringe. Judge Burke rejected that position:

Defendant shall produce core technical documents for the Logitech-based system. . . . [I]f the Court did not allow discovery of properly-accused products every time a defendant said that its product did not infringe the patent-in-suit, there would be little to no discovery permitted in the patent cases in this Court.

He suggested that the infringement allegation here was not completely baseless, and that whether the product meets the claims depends on claim construction:

The real dispute here appears to be about whether a product can infringe the relevant patent if it contains a two-dimensional and three-dimensional sensor that are implemented in one piece of hardware. . . . It strikes the Court that that issue may get resolved via claim construction, or, if not, then pursuant to a later dispute (perhaps at summary judgment) regarding infringement. But those steps in the case are still to come.

He also rejected the ...

Source Code
Markus Spiske, Unsplash

Delaware's Default Standard requires defendants to produce "core technical documents" on the accused products, even absent discovery requests from the plaintiff.

These core technical documents "includ[e] but [are] not limited to operation manuals, product literature, schematics, and specifications." Often parties interpret this as a relatively light production of just the core non-public material that a plaintiff needs to make out its infringement contentions.

Sometimes, however, plaintiffs will push back and demand production of source code, saying that a defendant must produce source code as part of its core technical documents.

This is a recurring issue, so I thought it was worth noting that, in Judge Fallon's discovery dispute order that we discussed earlier, she also …

Mathew Schwartz, Unsplash

One of the first questions that a patent plaintiff faces in bringing suit is "what do we have to include in the complaint?"

It's common in the District of Delaware for a patent plaintiff to list only a small number of asserted claims from each asserted patent, against a small number of accused products—often just one claim against one product.

Of course, listing more asserted claims may increase the chances that a court finds that the plaintiff stated a plausible claim of infringement in the event of a motion to dismiss. But many plaintiffs are fine with that risk, knowing that they can amend to avoid any motion to dismiss (usually) .

The Court normally permits parties to later add or remove asserted claims or accused products as ...

"Our RFAs will blot out the sun!" Possessed Photography, Unsplash

I have a feeling that, when the question of "how many RFAs can we serve if there is no limit" comes up going forward, we are all going to remember this case.

In FG SRC LLC v. Xilinx, Inc., C.A. No. 20-601-WCB (D. Del.), plaintiff apparently served 23,688 RFAs on the defendant, each one requesting an admission that a document produced by the defendant was authentic.

You may be thinking "Was this all in one set of RFAs?? Did they type this all out?!?" and it appears that the answer is "yes." According to the Court, the plaintiff served a "3,604-page document entitled 'First Requests for Admission of Authenticity.'" That's 9.1 RFAs per page.

I have to imagine they used a computer script or something similar to draft these. I hope they didn't condemn a poor associate or paralegal to their office for a week to type these out.

In any case, the defendant—shockingly!—objected that having to respond to 23,668 individual RFAs was "abusive, unreasonable, and oppressive." Judge Bryson ...

Jeff Castellano

Judge Andrews resolved a discovery dispute yesterday where plaintiff challenged defendant's "relevancy redactions." According to the plaintiff:

[Defendant] DuBois routinely applied, and refuses to remove, so-called relevancy redactions to the few documents it has produced in this case. . . . The DuBois redactions that [plaintiff] Ecolab has challenged are not addressed to preserving any privilege and are improper, particularly in view of the protective order that serves to safeguard DuBois’ confidential information in this case.

Judge Andrews seems to have shot this down quickly, holding that the defendant cannot redact for reasons other than privilege:

ORDER: By no later than May 30, 2022, Defendant shall produce to Plaintiffs all documents redacted for reasons other than preservation of …

Arrow Bullseye Target
Ricardo Arce, Unsplash

I came across an interesting discovery dispute transcript that hit the docket last week in Peloton Interactive, Inc. v. Echelon Fitness, LLC, C.A. No. 19-1903-RGA (D. Del.).

Plaintiff Peloton had asserted the patents-in-suit against another defendant in another action in E.D. Tex., and ultimately settled that casein part by buying the defendant's business for $24.5m.

The defendant here, Echelon, asked plaintiff to produce various communications related to that previous litigation and sale, including communications among counsel.

Plaintiff initially refused, until defendant brought a motion to compel; then plaintiff agreed in exchange for withdrawal the motion. But plaintiff never produced the documents.

Defendant moved again, noting the prior history. The Court ordered production: …

Translation Loading

Judge Fallon ruled on what is, as near as I can tell, a totally novel discovery dispute earlier this week.

The defendants in Chervon (HK) Limited v. One World Tech., Inc., C.A. No. 19-1293-VAC(!), were scheduled to depose several of plaintiffs witnesses and plaintiff learned -- its unclear how from the papers -- that defendant intended to use some previously untranslated Chinese documents as exhibits as exhibits. Plaintiffs' thus moved to compel the defendants to produce certified translations of these documents in advance of the depositions.

Judge Fallon denied the motion, noting that "the hardship in selecting all deposition exhibits well in advance of the deposition" needed to be "balanced . . . against the importance of maximizing …

Dollar Bills
Sharon McCutcheon, Unsplash

The question of whether a defendant has to produce foreign sales information seems to come up more frequently these days in patent cases, with plaintiffs coming up with new ways to reach—or at least attempt to reach—those sales in U.S. patent cases.

Yesterday, Magistrate Judge Hall resolved a dispute about whether a plaintiff is entitled to discovery on foreign sales. She held that even though their foreign-sales damages theory appeared shaky, the foreign sales discovery was warranted:

ORAL ORDER: Having reviewed the parties' letters in connection with the motion for teleconference to resolve discovery dispute, and having heard oral argument via teleconference on March 7, 2022, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the second and third …

The Delaware Default Standard for Discovery, discussed on these pages before, contains both patent- and non-patent-specific discovery rules and limits. Among them are a six-year limit on certain discovery in patent cases and a 10-custodian limit for electronic discovery. When the Default Standard is incorporated into the scheduling order (as it often is), its provisions are no longer guidelines or default provisions, but instead are requirements the parties must abide by, and which cannot be changed absent a showing of good cause.

Default Standard
Default Standard Default Standard for Discovery, U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware

Last week, Judge Burke resolved a number of discovery disputes in U.S. v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., C.A. No. 19-2103-MN, using the Default Standard (incorporated by reference into Judge Noreika's scheduling order) to guide his analysis.

First, Judge Burke denied the government's request for documents regarding manufacturing costs and other factors considered by defendant Gilead in pricing decisions in 2004:

The Court's Default Standard for Discovery, Including Discovery of Electronically Stored Information ("ESI") (the "Default Standard") sets a presumption that discovery from six years or more before the case's filing will not be permitted. . . . Here, in the few sentences of argument on this point in its briefing, . . . the Government does not provide enough information to establish the requisite good cause. During the teleconference, the Government suggested that good cause was established because it was only in 2004, and at no time thereafter, that Defendants had extensive discussions relating to the factors contributing to Truvada pricing decisions. However, that assertion is merely attorney argument, as there is no record evidence before the Court supporting such a conclusion.

Judge Burke also limited document discovery regarding Board of Directors meetings where pricing or the patents-in-suit were discussed to six years prior to the complaint, but did permit some discovery on those topics within the six-year period. ...

Norman Tsui, Unsplash

One of the oddities of beginning a case is the somewhat tortured interaction between Rules 26 and 16. Under Rule 26(d), most discovery can't be served until after the parties have their initial scheduling meet and confer. That conference, discussed in Rule 26(f), should take place "as soon as practicable—and in any event at least 21 days before a scheduling conference is to be held or a scheduling order is due under Rule 16(b)." Rule 16(b), in turn, requires the court to issue the scheduling order:

as soon as practicable, but unless the judge finds good cause for delay, the judge must issue it within the earlier of 90 days after any defendant has been served …