A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


Entries for tag: mtd

Judge Noreika just addressed an issue that rarely comes up in D. Del.: whether a patent should be delisted from the Orange Book for non-compliance with the Hatch-Waxman listing requirements. Although the issue itself is uncommon, the decision highlights the difficulty of winning a Rule 12 motion that hinges on early-stage claim construction.

The plaintiff sued "for infringement of five patents, only one of which . . . is listed in the Orange Book." The defendants counterclaimed that the Orange Book patent "must be delisted because it claims a 'system,' not a drug product, or method of using a drug, as required by" the Hatch-Waxman Act. The defendants then moved for judgment on the pleadings on their delisting …

We have another entry in the ongoing saga of the adequacy of post-complaint knowledge for indirect and willful infringement.

Judge Andrews started his analysis by acknowledging his own conflicting decisions, noting that "I have certainly done my share to contribute to the disagreement, having been on both sides of the issue."

He ultimately concluded that:

  1. "[T]he plaintiff should be allowed to amend a complaint to allege knowledge since the filing of the original complaint."
  2. "In the usual case, if the plaintiff's original complaint were dismissed for failure to plead pre-suit knowledge [for indirect infringement], then the plaintiff's amended complaint would require only one additional paragraph in order to allege knowledge since the filing of the original complaint."
  3. "I will, …

You know what they say about eggs in baskets...
You know what they say about eggs in baskets... Natalie Rhea, Unsplash

In a making a motion to dismiss for ineligibility under § 101, the moving party often seeks an ineligibility finding for all claims by attacking a single independent claim and arguing that it is "representative" of the others.

This can be a powerful briefing technique, as it avoids a repetitive slog through multiple asserted claims. Beyond that, it has the practical effect of shifting the burden to the patentee—to some extent—to show that the other asserted claims are different.

A short opinion yesterday by Judge Andrews, however, shows one downside of the representative-claim approach on a § 101 motion to dismiss. If you lose the argument …

Drugs
freestocks, Unsplash

Sitting by designation in D. Del., Circuit Judge Bibas recently issued an interesting 12(b)(6) opinion on false-advertising claims in the pharma context. These opinions tend to fly under the radar, but they often contain helpful practice tips.

The parties "both sell a medical cream, each with the same active ingredients in the same strength." Although the defendant's cream "is not an FDA-approved generic and has not been tested for bioequivalence[,]" it was listed in a database of pharmaceutical products "as an 'Equivalent Drug[.]'"

Judge Bibas found that this statement was neither false nor misleading:

Yet Sebela insists that “equivalent” implies more: bioequivalence and FDA approval. . . . The FDA has not approved TruPharma’s cream. But …

On Monday, Judge Andrews addressed a plaintiff's attempt to cure a § 101 dismissal by amending its complaint—certainly not something you see every day.

Earlier in the case, Magistrate Judge Fallon issued an R&R concluding that one of the asserted patents was directed to ineligible subject matter. Judge Andrews adopted the R&R and granted dismissal without prejudice.

The plaintiff then filed an amended complaint, which contained "eight new paragraphs with allegations . . . tout[ing] the supposed advantages and improved methods of the" previously dismissed patent.

Judge Andrews found that these allegations were not enough to avoid dismissal, granting partial dismissal of the amended complaint with prejudice:

These allegations do not resolve the issues that the Magistrate Judge …

Server
electronic wire lot photo, Massimo Botturi, Unsplash

Given the liberal amendment standard in federal court, it is not surprising that plaintiffs faced with § 101 challenges to their asserted patents may attempt to introduce factual issues through amended pleadings to avoid a dismissal.

Judge Connolly recently permitted the plaintiff in the consolidated Realtime Data litigation to amend its complaints after he had twice found plaintiff's patents (involving data compression) invalid under § 101. RealTime Data LLC v. Array Networks Inc., C.A. No. 17-800-CFC.
But the amendments were not enough to save plaintiff's patents, and Judge Connolly walked through the amendments to explain why.

First, the amended complaints asserted that certain claims were not representative of others, and that different limitations "must be considered separately for for the purposes of § 101." But these statements were deemed "conclusory," and in any event, the plaintiff failed to "explain why these limitations are relevant to subject-matter eligibility."

Second, he found that all but one of the "new" claim construction positions were already before the Court, and the remaining proposal (to construe "data accelerator" as "hardware or software with one or more compression ...

MTD

Chief Judge Connolly issued an interesting opinion on Friday, denying a motion to dismiss a DJ complaint in favor of an earlier-filed infringement action in the Western District of Texas.

The DJ case is the second Delaware action between these parties. After Judge Connolly found the claims in the first case invalid under § 101, the patentee brought an infringement action in Texas on a "virtually identical" continuation patent.

Although the Texas case was filed first, Judge Connolly declined to apply the first-to-file rule. He based his decision not only on judicial economy (i.e., he had already devoted substantive attention to the earlier, "virtually identical" patent), but also on the patentee's "litigation gamesmanship":

Second, SmileDirectClub' …

March of the Trolls
Paulo O, CC BY 2.0

Continuing our theme, another subject that often comes up in defending NPE complaints is whether the NPE's often-lackluster complaint may be vulnerable to an FRCP 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss (and whether that motion can be brought economically).

Judge Connolly today dismissed a complaint by Swirlate IP, an (alleged) IP Edge entity, because the complaint mostly parroted the language of the claims and offered an unspecific website URL.

Here is an example of a typical paragraph from the complaint, which mirrors the claim language but also offers slightly more:

21. Upon information and belief, the Accused Instrumentality performs the step of performing the second transmission by transmitting the second data symbols over a …

I wonder how many actual schoolbooks use the
I wonder how many actual schoolbooks use the "Century Schoolbook" font? Hope House Press - Leather Diary Studio, Unsplash

As we mentioned in our last post, Judge Bibas of the Third Circuit has taken two D. Del. patent cases by designation, along with a number of other cases.

I've seen a number of his opinions in other cases come through over the course of the year. They are easy to identify, as his writing style differs from any other judge we've had, in a way that is interesting to see.

One particularly notable opinion of his issued back in March, and apparently slipped our notice at the time. In it, he denies an FRCP 12(b)(6) motion, holding that a defendant's own patents can serve as circumstantial evidence that its products practice the claims, if those patents describe an infringing configuration. ...

These are not Pelotons.
These are not Pelotons. Jonathan Petit, Unsplash

In competitor cases, parties sometimes include Lanham Act claims alongside patent claims. That's what happened in Peloton Interactive, Inc. v. Icon Health & Fitness, Inc., C.A. No. 20-662-RGA (D. Del.), where both sides brought patent and Lanham Act claims or counterclaims.

Peloton moved to dismiss defendant Icon's Lanham Act counterclaims, which alleged that Peloton had made various false and misleading statements concerning things like whether the Peloton bike was the "first of its kind" and unique among its market, along with statements about Peloton music offerings.

Peloton argued that Lanham Act claims are subject to a higher pleading standard, relying on an old E.D. Pa. case from long before the Supreme Court's decisions on this issue in Twombly / Iqbal:

Peloton urges the Court to apply an “intermediate” standard that first appeared in Max Daetwyler Corp. v. Input Graphics Inc, 608 F. Supp. 1549, 1556 (E.D. Pa. 1985). The Court held, “[i]n litigation in which one party is charged with making false statements, it is important that the party charged be provided with sufficiently detailed allegations regarding the nature of the alleged falsehoods to allow him to make a proper defense.” . . . ICON argues that the standard articulated in Max Daetwyler is inappropriate because it was decided before Twombly and Iqbal. . . . Additionally, there is disagreement within district courts in the Third Circuit as to its applicability. . . .

Judge Andrews declined to apply the heightened standard, quoting