A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Entries for tag: litigation

Service of process on a foreign defendant can be tricky. If the foreign defendant will not agree to waive service under Rule 4(d), a plaintiff is left with methods of service under Rule 4 that are often complex and time-consuming, and come with no guarantee that the service will ultimately be effective.

And while Rule 4 does not set a deadline for service of process on foreign defendants, as it does for domestic defendants, the time to serve is not unbounded. Helpfully, Rule 4 provides a fallback that opens up the door to other--perhaps less onerous--methods of service, including simply sending an email (in the right circumstances).

When Can You Serve by E-mail?

She just served a defendant in Taiwan
She just served a defendant in Taiwan Brooke Cagle, Unsplash

Last week Magistrate Judge Hall permitted service on a foreign defendant by email pursuant to FRCP 4(f)(3), which provides that, in addition to various other methods of service, service of process may be achieved "by other means not prohibited by international agreement, as the court orders."

As Judge Hall recounted, plaintiff DivX LLC first attempted service by certified mail on Taiwanese defendant Realtek Semiconductor Corp., but Realtek apparently refused to accept the mail delivery. ...

FRCP 30 was amended in December 2020 to add a meet-and-confer requirement:

FRCP 30(b)(6) Amendment
U.S. Government Publishing Office

The amendment also suggests (by removing "then") that a party may designate its 30(b)(6) witness as part of the parties' discussions before the notice goes out.

No revised PDF of the rules is available yet, but Cornell's very-frequently-relied-upon page has already been updated.

No Change to Objection Procedures

One issue that commonly arises here in Delaware is that the parties serve an FRCP 30(b)(6) notice but do not receive objections until immediately before the deposition, leaving no time to resolve the issues.

Why is that? Because there is no deadline in the FRCP or the D. Del. local rules for objections to a …

When one prior art reference incorporates another, parties often prefer to argue that they form a single reference under an anticipation analysis, rather than asserting them as an obviousness combination. After all, who wants to deal with motivation to combine and secondary considerations of non-obviousness if they don't have to?

But there is a risk. The primary reference truly has to incorporate—not just cite—the secondary reference, which not the most common situation. If the first reference merely cites the second, the court will likely find that they cannot be treated as a single reference.

Judge Andrews addressed that situation this week, when faced with a Daubert motion to strike an expert opinion that treated two references as one in its …

Wilmington, <a href='#' class='abbreviation' data-toggle='tooltip' data-placement='top' title='Delaware'>DE</a>
Wilmington, DE Andrew Russell, CC BY 2.0

In the District of Delaware, the district court judges often refer substantive issues to the magistrate judges, even absent consent of the parties. This is one way that the judges manage the incredible load of the patent docket here.

When dealing with substantive referrals (not referrals for mediation/ADR), the Court uses an assignment system, where particular district court judges tend to refer cases and motions only to their assigned magistrate judges (with occasional exceptions).

The most recent announcement of magistrate judge assignments that I know of was made at a Federal Bar Association lunch back in September 2019:

  • Magistrate Judges Thynge …

Caution Tape
Hiroshi Kimura, Unsplash

I came across this case today, and I thought it was a good example of why, in Delaware, it can be dangerous to be seen as acting unreasonably, particularly when it comes to things like discovery disputes and case management.

Plaintiffs filed a first case in 2018, asserting infringement of a single patent. Earlier this year, it filed a second case against the same defendant for a newly-issued patent relating to the same subject matter.

Plaintiffs sought to consolidate the two cases because they involved similar facts:

[The cases involve] identical parties, identical accused acts of infringement, the same accused process, and related patents with identical inventors, materially identical specifications, and overlapping claim terms.

Defendants opposed …

Earlier today, Judge Connolly issued a ruling precluding a defendant from pursuing its inventorship theory under 35 U.S.C. § 102(f). The ruling is notable because the request for preclusion came at trial after the defense was included in the parties' pretrial order. Nonetheless, Judge Connolly found that the circumstances justified exclusion.

Ani Kolleshi, Unsplash

Although defendant Sandoz's final contentions had raised an inventorship defense, it was focused on misjoinder as opposed to nonjoinder, Judge Connolly explained.

And although Sandoz included a nonjoinder defense in its portion of the pretrial order, Judge Connolly noted that "given the number of contested facts and issue of law Sandoz identified in the 8,629-page PTO, I would not fault Plaintiffs if they failed …

It's interesting that the Court is now regularly offering public access information for remote hearings. I can't recall it doing that before the coronavirus.

The only pre-coronavirus remote hearings I can think of were for scheduling and discovery dispute conferences, where public access is not usually a concern. Scheduling conferences often took place privately in chambers even when they were in-person, and discovery dispute conferences often involve confidential information anyway. It looks like they judges are still handling these how they always have.

These days, however, the Court regularly holds all kinds of other, more substantive hearings remotely, and most of the judges have been taking steps to allow the public to attend. Here is what the judges have been …

[UPDATE: Apparently not! This opinion was reversed on a motion for reconsideration; further update below]

Judge Connolly today struck portions of an expert report where the expert opined that the accused product did not infringe because it included extra components in addition to what was claimed in a means-plus-function claim element.

According to the Court, this is contrary to the well-established principle that additional structure does not preclude infringement of an MPF claim element, if the required structure is also there.

[UPDATE: As the Court recognized on reconsideration, that was not what was happening here. Instead, the expert was pointing out that the opposing party's expert had failed to identify the a structure that performed the function, not that the …

Artists' rendering of the anonymous letter
Artists' rendering of the anonymous letter Brando Makes Branding, Unsplash

Chief Judge Stark today rescheduled the Xcoal trial for Wednesday of next week. The trial was previously derailed following receipt of an anonymous letter just after opening statements.

The opinion (embedded below) has a great summary of the facts of the trial so far, which are very unusual.

In resuming the trial quickly, he hoped to deter others from sending similar "anonymous letters" to interfere with other trials. He also noted that this is the only time the Court will have available for bench trials in the near future, because of the backlog of criminal and civil jury trials which should start back this month:

[T]his District hopes and …

Empty Chair
Giorgio Trovato, Unsplash

Sometimes people think that they have to offer expert testimony to rebut the other side's expert on every single issue. That's not true, at least when the other side has the burden of proof.

I've represented a defendant in a jury trial representing where we offered no damages expert at all, and it worked out well (under the circumstances—I'm definitely not saying it's a good general strategy). We poked holes in the opposing expert's theories, and the other side had no way to return fire and no reply report in which the fix the issues.

Judge Andrews addressed something like that last week in an opinion on a motion in limine. Defendant had offered expert …