A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


Entries for tag: rr

We have written about the ways in which a party can, despite its intention to object to a portion of a Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation, waive or otherwise fail to properly assert its objections.

However, an even more fundamental issue is whether a party is permitted to object in the first instance (or more specifically, whether a party is entitled to have a Judge rule on the merits of its objections). In a recent decision, Judge Andrews could not find "any reason to consider the merits of Plaintiffs' objections" to an R&R in which the plaintiffs prevailed.

Judge Andrews' decision evokes the general rule that a party cannot appeal from a judgment in its favor. Although Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(2) and 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C) - which set out the basic framework for objections to R&Rs on dispositive motions - do not themselves preclude objections by a prevailing party (both discuss objections to the proposed findings and recommendations by "any party"), Judge Andrews suggested that where a party prevails on the substance of the issues before the Magistrate Judge, that party's objections may be "moot."

The Magistrate Judge recommended...

Divide
Crack on white concrete surface, Brina Blum, Unsplash

We've been following the district court cases holding that a complaint itself cannot establish knowledge of patent infringement sufficient to support a claim of indirect infringement or willfulness.

On Friday, Judge Hall jumped in, noting that judges in this district have taken views on this issue:

As many have acknowledged, courts—including courts within this district—disagree as to whether a pleading alleging post-suit inducement must allege that the defendant had the requisite knowledge prior to the filing of that particular pleading (or the lawsuit itself). I am also aware that there are courts—including in this district—that appear to hold that in the absence of pre-suit knowledge, a post-suit indirect infringement claim …

Stop Sign
Luke van Zyl, Unsplash

Back in March, we noted Judge Connolly's adoption of a bright-line rule regarding reliance on post-complaint knowledge for indirect and willful infringement allegations:

[I]n the absence of binding authority to the contrary from the Federal Circuit and Supreme Court, I will adopt the rule that the operative complaint in a lawsuit fails to state a claim for indirect patent infringement where the defendant's alleged knowledge of the asserted patents is based solely on the content of that complaint or a prior version of the complaint filed in the same lawsuit. And I conclude that the operative complaint in a lawsuit fails to state a claim for willfulness-based enhanced damages under § 284 where the …

Hammock
Mohamed Ajufaan, Unsplash

The most interesting part of a judicial decision is often found in the footnotes.

Case in point: yesterday, Magistrate Judge Burke issued an R&R on a motion to dismiss, recommending dismissal with prejudice of the patentee's contributory infringement claims (but otherwise recommending that the motion be denied).

For the most part, the R&R presents a fairly standard analysis of induced, contributory, and willful infringement claims. But it also contains several interesting footnotes, including a stern word of caution on sloppy pleadings:

As Tonal notes, . . . ICON gets off to a poor start here, since in its counterclaims, ICON did not even bother to state whether it is alleging induced infringement, contributory infringement, or both. …

Objections to Reports and Recommendations are something like an appeal. The District Judge is tasked with addressing the alleged errors of the Magistrate Judge de novo only to the extent they are "properly objected to." Fed. R. Civ. P. 72(b)(3). Thus, it is the job of the parties to raise objections to an R&R in a procedurally proper way. If they fail to do so, the District Judge is hamstrung to an extent. This outcome was on display in a recent ruling by Judge Andrews, in which both sides failed to properly object to a portion of the Magistrate Judge's R&R, leaving a patent with "serious" validity problems alive (for now).

Judge Andrews just issued some tough guidance for parties thinking about filing R&R objections in D. Del.

The entire order is worth a read, but the most interesting tidbit is in the first footnote. Magistrate Judge Burke issued an R&R on a motion to dismiss, where he recommended dismissing the plaintiff's indirect infringement claims (without prejudice) and denying the defendant's § 101 motion.

Judge Andrews wasted no time overruling the plaintiff's objection to the dismissal of its indirect infringement claims, noting that:

Plaintiff’s argument has no impact on this case; Defendant wisely did not waste paper filing a response.

Although Judge Andrews spent more time discussing the defendant's objections, he quickly dispatched several arguments that were raised only …

Judge Burke's exacting standards regarding the sufficiency of pleadings in a patent case were on display in a recent R&R, in which he recommended dismissing indirect and willful infringement claims. This ruling demonstrates that although plaintiffs are not required to prove their case as the pleading stage, they are well advised to bolster their complaint with allegations that link the elements of their claims to specific facts.

The key passages of the 24-page R&R in Midwest Energy Emissions Corp. v. Vistra Energy Corp., C.A. No. 19-1334-RGA-CJB concern what makes an infringement claim "plausible" under the Twombly/Iqbal standard.