A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


Entries for tag: Motion to Compel

People still use paper documents?!?
People still use paper documents?!? Wesley Tingey, Unsplash

Magistrate Judge Fallon addressed a discovery dispute last week, and denied a motion to compel a response to interrogatories regarding efforts to preserve documents in anticipation of litigation:

ORAL ORDER: Having reviewed the parties' discovery dispute letter submissions . . . , IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: . . . (3) Defendant's request to compel Plaintiff to supplement its responses to Interrogatory Nos. 16-17 and Request for Production Nos. 104-05 is DENIED. Discovery regarding efforts undertaken by Plaintiff to preserve documents in anticipation of litigation is barred under the Court's Default Standard for Discovery of ESI and Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(3)(A) and (B), particularly in the absence of a credible …

Illustration of the stone wall plaintiff will face when they actually depose this person.
Illustration of the stone wall plaintiff will face when they actually depose this person. eberhard grossgasteiger, Unsplash

In The United States of America v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., C.A. No. 19-2103-MN (D. Del.), plaintiff moved to compel defendant to produce a 30(b)(6) witness on various topics, including on "[a]ll bases" for certain statements by defendant's CEO, including statements about a decision not to challenge the validity of certain patents.

As to two of those topics, the defendant argued in its responsive letter that the CEO's statements were "based entirely on communications and memoranda prepared by Gilead’s in-house counsel and outside counsel," which are privileged. The Court generally agreed:

[T]he Court definitely acknowledges Defendants' point[, ]i.e., …

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 ...

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 provides; i.e., the more detail a party provides, the more detail a party shall receive.

On Monday, Judge Burke issued an order illustrating the implications of this standard (and the importance of serving detailed contentions).

A defendant moved to compel a response to an interrogatory seeking the plaintiff's detailed validity contentions. Judge Burke granted the motion, but with a catch:

As for the portion of ROG 15 that asks ...

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 …