A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Entries for tag: Summary Judgment

Continuing our eclipse theme
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Most of the judges in the District of Delaware have settled on page limits for summary judgment and Daubert motions in patent cases of 250 total pages: 50 pages opening, 50 pages answering, and 25 pages reply—per side.

The "per side" part is important, and it can have a significant impact on cases with multiple unrelated defendants or defendant groups.

The Court has usually resisted expanding these limits, and in many cases, has instead experimented with ways of reducing the burden on the Court. Judge Noreika, for example, has sometimes required parties to seek leave before filing summary judgment motions.

Chief Judge Connolly has instituted a "ranking" procedure in his cases to help deter meritless …

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 …

The ITC is just, constantly issuing opinions. It's always "import this" and "don't export that." Frankly, I don't have the time for it.

That sands through the hourglass, so are the [copyrighted material redacted]
That sands through the hourglass, so are the [copyrighted material redacted] Nathan Dumlao, Unsplash

On this historic day, however, Judge Wolson struck back against the relentless tide of ITC opinions. An act for which we at IP/DE will forever be grateful.

The issue came up in the context of a summary judgment opinion in Wirtgen America, Inc. v. Caterpillar, Inc., C.A. No. 17-770-JDW-MPT (D. Del. Jan 4, 2024) (Mem). The plaintiff there had previously prevailed at the ITC on one of the patents, and the ITC had issued (sigh) an exclusion order.

The plaintiff then moved for summary judgment of infringement, citing in support only the ITC's written decision. Judge Wolson, denied the motion:

The ITC’s decision is not factual evidence. It is, instead, a decision that weighs evidence and applies the law. Wirtgen’s reliance on the ITC decision as the sole evidence to support its argument means that I could deny the motion just for a failure of proof. But there are other problems as well.
Even if I treated the ITC’s decision as evidence, it would not suffice to carry Wirtgen’s burden. The decision is not binding on me. And the decision came in a different procedural posture. The ITC weighed the parties’ evidence and reached a conclusion, much like I would do after a bench trial. But, at this stage of the proceedings, I can’t weigh the evidence. Instead, I have to credit any contrary evidence that Caterpillar offers, and it has offered evidence . . .

Wirtgen, C.A. No. 17-770-JDW-MPT, at 10.

Let this serve as a reminder that we all have to keep fighting the good fight.

(Eds. Note - the ITC is actually pretty cool by the standards of IP courts and practitioners)

Many years ago now (I'm so old), then-Judge Connolly (now Chief Judge Connolly) brought forth onto this district the gift of the word limit (at least in cases assigned to Judge Connolly). Nevermore would Delaware counsel spend hours futzing (technical term) with fonts and orphan control (it really sounds ominous to put those words together) in an effort to get our briefs down to the mandated 20 pages (this paragraph has waaay too many parentheticals).

For a time it seemed we would have a new golden age of beautiful briefs where every section began proudly atop its own page.

(hums patriotic tune while shedding a single tear)
(hums patriotic tune while shedding a single tear) National Archives

But alas, the conversion to a word limit spawned its own set of tactics to limit the number of words that must be counted. One such tactic—borrowed, in fact, from the days of the page limit—is the use of a table of abbreviations at the front of the document. Judge Connolly's opinion yesterday in Synopsys, Inc. v. Bell Semiconductor, LLC, C.A. No. 22-1512-CFC (D. Del. Dec. 6, 2023) (Mem. Op.), neatly illustrates the pitfalls of this method.

The infringement defendant, Synopsis (plaintiff in the DJ action), moved for SJ of no indirect infringement. As a result of filing three other SJ motions and two Dauberts, Synopsis was running up against the combined word limit. Accordingly, each of the SJ briefs had a table of abbreviations right after the table authorities, seting forth the definitions of, among other things the "asserted claims." The body of the brief, however, did not specifically mention this table and just referred to the Asserted Claims generally throughout.

Chief Judge Connolly found this practice unclear, particularly because ...

"Here is our argument. The rest of the pieces are in our concise statement of facts." T.J. Breshears, Unsplash

Years ago, I wrote a really terrible first draft of a summary judgment brief arguing invalidity of a patent for obviousness.

I wrote it immediately after expert reports, and my draft failed to actually say why the claims were obvious. Instead, the whole draft read like a sur-rebuttal to the patentee's expert: here is why their first argument doesn't work, here is why their second argument doesn't work, and so on. Never "here is why the claims are obvious."

To me, at the time, it looked great. I rebutted all of their arguments! How can we lose! To others, it …

Ryan Johns, Unsplash

Wow! This is something you don't see every day. The defendant in Truinject Corp. v Galderma S.A., C.A. No. 19-592-GBW (D. Del.) filed—and won—five motions for summary judgment.

Impressively, each of the five motions had its own grounds. This isn't an instance where one winning argument resolved five motions.

Here are the five motions:

  • Breach of Contract: No damages. The Court granted summary judgment that because the alleged harm was not actually caused by the breach, there can be no damages.
  • Trade Secret Misappropriation: No misappropriation. Plaintiff showed that misappropriation could have happened—because employees had access and worked on defendant's product—but offered no evidence that it did happen.
  • Non-Infringement of Patent 1: …

Treasure Map
Nadjib BR, Unsplash

After reading the decision in Nate's post yesterday, it occurred to me that we haven't addressed a common question in cases in the District of Delaware: When will the Court decide the parties' summary judgment motions?

This is a question that comes up a lot. I think that sometimes, in clients' minds, summary judgment motions are something that is resolved quickly. The parties brief their motions, the Court immediately turns to them, and then an opinion should come out in a week or two. Right?

No. That's not true in any U.S. district court I've practiced in, and the District of Delaware is no different. The Court is extremely hardworking but also overwhelmingly busy.

The …

It's got more of a Rufus from Bill & Ted vibe, but I think you get what I was going for
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There is probably no more common desire than the ability to go back in time to correct one's mistakes. To use examples from the fascinating life of Jeff Goldblum, you could:

  • Decline that invitation to the trial run of a dinosaur themed amusement park
  • Check your laboratory for bugs before experimenting with teleportation, or alternatively, hire an assistant
  • Suggest someone else lead the pod people away so the group can escape. Ideally, this person would be a bit faster than you.

Most lawyers are bound by more mundane hopes. The job is riddled with tiny-seeming pitfalls with potentially disastrous consequences. Every time you fall into one, you wish you could just call a mulligan and fix …

Stick Figure Bonk

We talked early last year about how Judge Noreika praised Chief Judge Connolly SJ ranking procedures, and applied them in a case where the parties had filed 11 SJ motions.

As a reminder, under Chief Judge Connolly's procedures, the parties rank their SJ and Daubert motions. The Court addresses them in order, and if it denies one, it then denies the remainder.

Needless to say, it can lead to some significant strategizing prior to filing, where parties try to balance the importance of each motion with its likelihood of success.

This week, Judge Noreika did it again, and I thought it was a good time to remind everyone that this can happen. In VB Assets, LLC v. Amazon.com, Inc. …

A visiting judge

Judge Wolson is a visiting judge with a number of patent cases here in Delaware. His procedures tend to differ a fair bit from Delaware judges in some areas (particularly those involving redactions sealing).

In February, he implemented an interesting new procedure for summary judgment motions. His new procedure requires parties to serve—but not file—their statement of fact in support of the motion 28 days in advance, so that the opposing party can respond on a fact-by-fact basis. The party serving the motion can then respond to that response. The resulting combined statement of facts is then filed with the brief.

This process is intended to result in a single statement of facts that includes the parties' opening, answering, and reply positions as to each fact, in that order and in one document for easy readability:

The result of this process will be a single, consolidated statement of facts that permits Judge Wolson to see each party’s position on each factual assertion in one place. For example, ...