A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Entries for tag: Discovery Dispute

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 …

Glenn Carstens-Peters, Unsplash

All judges in the District of Delaware have implemented discovery dispute procedures.

Under the procedures, instead of the parties engaging in lengthy briefing and the Court issuing a detailed opinion on a discovery issue—a process can take months—they meet-and-confer and raise it with the Court. The Court then schedules a quick hearing and sets deadlines for short discovery dispute letters from the parties.

After the Court receives the parties' letters, it either issues a short "oral order" on the docket resolving the dispute, or issues an order at the hearing, with the transcript serving as the opinion. This saves time for everyone involved, and is one of the methods that the Court uses to manage its …

Yesteday, Judge Stark issued an opinion on various discovery disputes and objections in Natera, Inc. v. ArcherDX, Inc., C.A. No. 20-125-LPS (D. Del. Sept. 21, 2021). Here are a few helpful nuggets from the opinion:

He declined to order defendants to respond to 30(b)(6) topics like the following, except for identifying "all persons substantively involved" because that language is "vague and overbroad":

The research, development, design, testing and validation of each of Your Accused Products, including when they were developed and identity of all persons substantively involved in their design and development.

He ordered defendants to produce a corporate witness on the following topic, including an order to describe contemplated and future filings with the …

A similar log jam
A similar log jam David Lindahl, Unsplash

There was an interesting discovery dispute order from Judge Burke yesterday. In Sysmex Corporation et al v. Beckman Coulter, Inc., C.A. No. 19-642-RGA-CJB (D. Del.) (a case we've previously discussed), due to COVID issues, defendant has been unable to depose the inventor—an employee of plaintiff—since the deposition was noticed over eight months ago.

Now, fact discovery is closed, summary judgment motions are due today, and the case is scheduled for trial in February 2022—but the plaintiff still hasn't provided the inventor for a deposition.

The defendant wisely moved to stay the case pending deposition of the inventor. In ruling on the motion, ...

PLEASE STAND BY . . . while we figure out why we only produced 13 e-mails
PLEASE STAND BY . . . while we figure out why we only produced 13 e-mails RCA

Yesterday, Magistrate Judge Fallon granted a motion for sanctions against One World Technologies, Inc., a defendant in a patent action, for failing to produce the bulk of its e-mail until 13 months after the plaintiff's initial request.

Defendant One World initially produced only 13 e-mails in response to plaintiff's requests, served back in April 2020. According to a later declaration of counsel, One World's attorneys had received multiple gigabyte's worth of .pst files containing e-mail from the agreed-upon custodians. But they found those files to be corrupted, and they relied on their clients' determination that all but 134 of the e-mails were unrecoverable. …

Here's a new one: A defendant in Natera, Inc. v. ArcherDX, Inc., C.A. No. 20-125-LPS (D. Del.) wanted to delay the trial to coordinate the schedule with another case involving an overlapping patent. So it filed a letter asking for leave to file a 3-page letter briefs, or to have a teleconference:

Given the parties have been unable to agree on an appropriate approach for coordination of both cases, we respectfully request leave to submit the competing views to Your Honor during a status conference or 3-page letter briefs.

Chief Judge Stark denied the request, directing the parties to file a motion instead:

ORAL ORDER: Having reviewed the parties' letters . . . relating to [the …

Dollar Bills
Sharon McCutcheon, Unsplash

It seems like litigation funding is becoming a more active area for discovery disputes lately—a trend that is likely to continue after Judge Connolly granted a dismissal based on a litigation funding agreement late last year. See Uniloc USA, Inc. v. Motorola Mobility, LLC, C.A. No. 17-1658-CFC, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 244512, at *25 (D. Del. Dec. 30, 2020).

Last week, Judge Burke confirmed a previous denial of litigation funding discovery, offering some additional thoughts:

ORAL ORDER: The Court, having now reviewed the parties' supplemental letter briefs . . . in which Defendants ask the Court to reconsider its March 2, 2021 Order . . . , hereby notes as follows: . . …

Tennis Court
Bannon Morrissy, Unsplash

On Wednesday, Judge Burke issued the following order cutting the parties off from further discovery dispute teleconferences—but not discovery disputes—after they brought their fourteenth request for discovery assistance in just over a year:

ORAL ORDER: The Court, having reviewed the parties' . . . request [for] a discovery teleconference . . . hereby notes as follows: (1) since the Court was referred this matter in February 2020 to resolve discovery/protective order disputes, this is the 14th different time that the parties have sought the Court's assistance in that regard; (2) as part of those 14 different requests for Court assistance, the parties have brought the Court a total of 31 different disputed issues to …

Pepi Stojanovski, Unsplash

It's a tough scenario: you think your opponent might have assigned away their patent rights, but you aren't exactly sure. And the only way you could know for sure is with information you don't have.

Most of the time in D. Del., disputes like this are addressed in a hearing transcript or an oral order. They don't make headlines, and they never hit Lexis or Westlaw, but they often provide helpful guidance for the future.

Yesterday, Judge Burke issued an oral order denying a request to compel a plaintiff to turn over its litigation funding documents. The defendants knew that the plaintiff had third-party litigation funding (and suspected that there might have been some assignment of …