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Entries for tag: Scheduling Order

Scheduling Order

Last month, after her elevation to the bench as a district judge, Judge Hall issued a revised form scheduling order.

I think it's worth paying attention to what changes, even if the changes may not directly apply in your case, because it shows what the judges are focused on and thinking about.

Plus, it usually doesn't hurt to comply with a judge's newest procedures even if they are not required by the (outdated) scheduling order in your case.

So, what's new?

Stating the Meaning of "Plain and Ordinary Meaning"

Judge Hall adopted a set of additional requirements for joint claim construction briefs. Like all of our current judges, she uses Judge Andrews' procedure of a joint claim construction brief. But …

The big apple: The home of the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and (apparently) precedent permitting late-served cross-motions for summary judgment.
The big apple: The home of the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and (apparently) precedent permitting late-served cross-motions for summary judgment. Michael Discenza, Unsplash

In Fundamental Innovation Systems International LLC v. Anker Innovations Ltd., C.A. No. 21-339-RGA (D. Del.), plaintiff moved for summary judgment of patent eligibility, and defendant filed an answering brief.

At the same time as its answering brief, however, defendant filed a late "cross-motion" for summary judgment, asking the Court to not only deny plaintiff's motion, but to grant summary judgment of ineligibility. Defendant devoted about 9 pages of its 40-answering brief to arguing against plaintiff's motion and in favor of its own affirmative "cross-motion" for a determination of ineligibility.

Plaintiff …

Watch out for what may be in that draft scheduling order...
Watch out for what may be in that draft scheduling order... AI Generated, displayed with permission

In International Business Machines Corporation v. Zynga Inc., C.A. No. 22-590-GBW (D. Del.), the parties agreed in the scheduling order to a rather vague set of case narrowing provisions:

On November 30, 2023, Plaintiff shall perform a first narrowing of the number of asserted claims. On December 7, 2023, Defendant shall perform a first narrowing of the number of asserted invalidity references.
. . . On February 28, 2024, Plaintiff shall perform a second narrowing of the number of asserted claims. On March 5, 2024, Defendant shall perform a second narrowing of the number of asserted invalidity …

I have no idea what picture would go with this post. Enjoy some nice, royalty-free antelope.
I have no idea what picture would go with this post. Enjoy some nice, royalty-free antelope. NEOM, Unsplash

Years ago, Judge Stark added language to his form scheduling order to resolve a common dispute: can an expert submit a declaration in support of summary judgment?

The language requires the parties to agree in advance, at the start of the case, whether they will permit this:

Expert Report Supplementation. The parties agree they [will] [will not] [CHOOSE ONE] permit expert declarations to be filed in connection with motions briefing (including case-dispositive motions).

Judge Stark has since moved up, but several D. Del. judges still use this language in their scheduling orders, including Judges Noreika, Hall, Burke, and …

Not the hoped-for result.
Not the hoped-for result. Michael Jin, Unsplash

Sometimes it's nice to know what doesn't work.

In AlterWAN, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., C.A. No. 19-1544-MN (D. Del.), the parties stipulated to a judgment of non-infringement after the Court construed certain terms of the patent, and then appealed to the Federal Circuit.

The Federal Circuit vacated the stipulated judgment because it found it was not specific enough, and remanded the case. See AlterWAN, Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., 63 F.4th 18, 23 (Fed. Cir. 2023) (“[W]e cannot ‘ascertain the basis for the judgment’ of non-infringement, . . . because the parties did not adequately explain how the claim construction rulings related to the accused systems.”).

On remand, the …

Francois Olwage, Unsplash

Sir Isaac Newton once wrote to Robert Hooke (Hooke’s Law): “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” This quote was the cornerstone on which I built my 5th grade graduation speech, because it seemed to be an eloquent way to say “don’t reinvent the wheel”.

Judge Hatcher appears to be building on the knowledge accumulated by judges occupying the bench before her. In particular, Judge Hatcher’s new form Scheduling Order for patent cases seems strongly inspired by Judge Hall’s and Judge Burke’s form orders.

Here are a few differences . . .

  • Omits the paragraph on the unavailability of the ADR Process. This indicates that the Court expects litigants to …

Stop Sign
Luke van Zyl, Unsplash

We've talked about how it's generally understood that parties can agree to modify certain deadlines in the District of Delaware without a stipulation, such as discovery response deadlines, deposition dates before the close of fact discovery, or deadlines under the Default Standard.

We were careful to exclude depositions occurring after the close of fact discovery from that list. After all, the fact discovery deadline is set by court order. Thus, parties often stipulate to take fact depositions after the close of fact discovery.

An opinion from Judge Williams yesterday held that these stips are unnecessary, and the parties can take depositions after the close of fact discovery without any stip to that effect:

ORAL ORDER: The Court has reviewed the Stipulation to take deposition outside fact discovery ...

Rule 16(b)(4) is deeply ingrained in the mind, body and soul of every DE lawyer. To modify the scheduling order, one must show good cause. Good cause, in turn, hinges upon the diligence of the movant.

More than 1,000 orders in DE patent cases analyze whether a party was diligent. Some have praised the herculean efforts of the parties (not a lot of those, honestly), while others cursed their lazy hides for daring hobble up the Courtroom steps (somewhat more common).

"Diligence" AI-Generated, displayed with permission

I have analyzed every single one to determine how often the Court found diligence.

I'm sorry that was a joke. We have a GoFundMe for an intern. Please donate if you would like that level of analysis. Instead I have looked at the last 10 such opinions and orders. Of those, a scant 3 found the movant diligent and granted the requested schedule extension, whilst 7 found the movant had delayed and denied the request.

Obviously this is a fact dependent inquiry, but it's something to consider the next time you move for an extension.

Delaware regulars will know that a stipulation to extend a deadline will—with certain limited exceptions—usually be granted as a matter of course. Moreover, the common wisdom is that one ought to agree to a short extension of a discovery or briefing deadline, absent some strong reason not to. Such is the DELAWARE WAY (TM).

Sometimes, though, a request for an extension just rubs you the wrong way. Maybe they ask late, maybe they jerked you around when you asked for an extension last time, maybe you saw them double-dip a chip at the last bar mixer and you just can't get over it. In those times, it's nice to be able to point to case where the court denied a …

In the before time, when the green grass grew tall even in the wan Wilmington sun, all scheduling orders had two rounds of contentions, one early in the case and another near the close of fact discovery. A bit over two years ago, Judge Connolly shook things up by introducing a new form order in his cases that included only a single round of contentions early in the case and requiring "good cause" to amend.

AI-Generated, displayed with permission

And so, on this slow news day, I decided to take a look back at how often parties manage to show the requisite good cause to amend their contentions in cases assigned to Judge Connolly (many of these are decided in the first instance by a magistrate judge).

The upshot is, that most of these motions seem to succeed. DocketNavigator shows 10 such motions in cases assigned to Judge Connolly (which strikes me as low, but I'm not a soulless trawling algorithm, so what do I know?). Of those 7 have been granted, and only 3 have been denied. Normally I would put in the percentages here, but I trust you all to do the math on this one.

This brings to mind another question, which I shall raise in a further blog post on another slow day, does Judge Connolly receive fewer motions like these than our judges who don't specifically require good cause? I.e., are parties who would otherwise just file late contentions and take their shot under Pennypack factors deciding not to do so because they know they can't show good cause?!

All this and more on next weeks episode of IPDE! (Batman theme plays)