A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


Entries for tag: Discovery

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Although we have a "default standard" for discovery in DE, there's a lot of leeway for deviation based on the facts of the case. More (or fewer) custodians, more (or less) metadata, search terms that call eldritch horrors from their squalid caches -- pretty much anything is on the table.

Pretty much.

There's always a line somewhere, and I think we found it last week in Acceleration Bay, LLC v. Amazon Web Services, Inc. C.A. No. 22-904-RGA-MPT (D. Del. Nov. 22, 2022). The defendant, AWS, wanted to include the following passage in the ESI Order:

Acceleration Bay shall not seek email discovery relating to infringement or damages, except that Acceleration Bay …

Bookmarks
Chiara F, Unsplash

I thought I'd share an old transcript that has come in handy a number of times since it issued back in 2013, 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 . . …

Magnifying Glass
Agence Olloweb, Unsplash

Since the Court's announcement of the current vacant judgeship program, there have been some lingering questions about what a magistrate judge in a vacant judgeship case can and cannot decide.

We got some insight on that question yesterday in Huber Engineered Woods LLC v. Louisiana-Pacific Corporation, C.A. No. 19-342-VAC-SRF (D. Del.). The referral order in that case is typical of VAC cases—it says that the magistrate judge can resolve only a limited scope of disputes:

this case is referred to Magistrate Judge Sherry R. Fallon solely for the following purposes: (1) to adjudicate discovery (including fact and expert discovery) and protective order disputes; (2) to issue or modify a scheduling order; (3) to …

"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 ...

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 …

Bay Materials, LLC v. 3M Company, C.A. No. 21-1610-RGA (D. Del.) is a competitor patent infringement case where a smaller company is trying to prevent a larger competitor—3M—from allegedly copying its "flagship product," a "multilayer polymer sheet material" called "Zendura™ FLX."

The plaintiff moved for a preliminary injunction immediately upon filing the case, and the parties filed a stipulation agreeing to a discovery and briefing schedule. The parties disputed whether the defendant should be able to take an FRCP 30(b)(6) deposition of the plaintiff as part of the preliminary injunction discovery.

Defendant sought the 15-topic FRCP 30(b)(6) deposition to prevent plaintiffs' witnesses from "claim[ing] a lack of knowledge about relevant topics." Plaintiff argued that the notice was …

Shades of Coffee

Delaware’s Default Standard for Discovery requires that plaintiff “specifically identify the accused products and the asserted patent(s) they allegedly infringe” within 30 days of the Rule 16 Scheduling Conference. So, if the accused products were not identified in the complaint itself, they must be identified early in discovery. But what is the scope of discovery on products that were not specifically identified in the complaint or accused before the Default Standard deadline?

Can plaintiffs seek information regarding “substantially similar” models? Generally, this question is answered on a case-by-case basis using three factors found in in Invensas Corp. v. Renesas Elecs. Corp., 287 F.R.D. 273, 282 (D. Del. 2012):

(1) [A]s to relevance, the specificity with which the plaintiff has articulated how the unaccused products are relevant to its existing claims of infringement (and how they are thus “reasonably similar” to the accused products at issue in those claims);
(2) [W]hether the plaintiff had the ability to identify such products via publicly available information prior to the request; and
(3) [T]he nature of the burden on defendant(s) to produce the type of discovery sought.

In an order last week, Judge Fallon denied ...

Checklist
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 …

Patentees in federal court litigation are generally not required to identify every accused product in their complaint. Often, the complaint and early contentions identify an exemplary product or two, and the larger list of related accused products is hashed out during discovery. Simply identifying an exemplary product, however, does not entitle the patentee to demand that the defendant do all the work of identifying - and producing technical discovery on - similar products.

Judges in this District have historically limited patentees' ability to obtain discovery into unaccused products without articulating some basis for believing that those unaccused products infringe, or at least share some relevant characteristic with the products alleged to infringe in the complaint and/or contentions. Judge Burke regularly wades into these waters, applying a multi-factor test that acknowledges the relevant burdens but also leaves room for practical adjustments to those burdens where necessary.

That test was applied recently by Judge Burke in Fundamental Innovation Systems International LLC v. TCT Mobile (US) Inc., C.A. No. 20-552, and his analysis demonstrates...