A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


Entries for tag: motion-to-compel

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...

Tug of War
Merritt Thomas, Unsplash

For many years, the prevailing view in D. Del. has been that "you get what you give" when it comes to contention discovery. In other words, if you want a defendant to serve detailed non-infringement contentions, your infringement contentions should have a similar level of detail.

This standard is built into several of the judges' form scheduling orders, including Judges Stark, Noreika, Burke, Fallon, and Hall. For example, Judge Burke's form provides that:

In the absence of agreement of the parties, contention interrogatories, if filed, shall first be addressed by the party with the burden of proof. The adequacy of all interrogatory answers shall, in part, be judged by the level of detail each party …

Money
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 …

For decades, judges in D. Del. have enforced a general rule that you can’t serve 30(b)(6) topics on a party’s contentions. The rationale is simple: it just isn’t fair to burden a single witness with that much information. Contention interrogatories can achieve the same the same goal, without forcing a 30(b)(6) witness to sit for the most stressful memory test of their life.

In a discovery order on Friday, Judge Andrews highlighted an important corollary to this rule: you can’t get around it by framing your contention topic as a request for “all facts” about a party’s contentions. The judge found that all four of these examples were improper contention topics:

  • Investigations, tests, studies, surveys, interviews, reviews, analyses and …