A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

Entries for tag: Trial Practice

Once you stop groaning, you can use this image of
Once you stop groaning, you can use this image of "sealing the courtroom" to help you remember to move to seal next time. AI-Generated, displayed with permission

Most filings in the District of Delaware can be made under seal without a motion. The Court requires a motion to seal certain things, however, including hearing transcripts—and the burden on those motions can be high.

I've noticed that out-of-town counsel sometimes forgets just how involved it is to file a motion to seal. It's not a form motion that you can draft up quickly. It's a substantive filing, that also requires a meet-and-confer, and that is best supported by a client declaration.

Visiting Judge Wolson, of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, reminded …

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 …

Words to live by when thinking about whether you need to go to the Court on your nth dispute this week.
Words to live by when thinking about whether you need to go to the Court on your nth dispute this week. George Pagan III, Unsplash

It's easy, especially at trial or in the lead-up to trial, to feel like you need to bring every dispute to the Court. The stakes in patent cases tend to be high, clients want to see progress, and sometimes every little dispute ends up feeling critical (particularly if the outcome impacts your trial plans).

Beyond that, sometimes more junior associates are tasked with handling disputes as trial approaches—and may be given the implicit authority to raise disputes, but not to resolve them. Shockingly, disputes can then multiply pretty quickly.

What happens when you start …

Pictured: The poor associate, who writes the briefs, carts the boxes, and dutifully passes polite notes up as the partner mangles the argument
Pictured: The poor associate, who writes the briefs, carts the boxes, and dutifully passes polite notes up as the partner mangles the argument AI-Generated

One question I've seen from time to time is "what should we bring to the hearing?" Not "how should we prepare," but what physical stuff should litigators bring on the day of a hearing or oral argument?

I thought it would be useful to post a checklist—both for you, our readers, and so that I can send it around in response to future questions.

The checklist below should be considered ideas for what to bring. Practiced litigators undoubtedly already have their own systems, and every hearing is different. You should not bring everything below to every hearing. This list is instead meant as a last-minute, "I'm about to head out the door, is there anything else I should bring?" checklist to spark ideas.

Note that this is geared towards oral argument in patent cases in the District of Delaware, but much of it is applicable to other kinds of hearings ...

"I knew we forgot something..." AI-Generated, displayed with permission

Yesterday Judge Williams issued an oral order in Board of Regents, The University of Texas System v. Boston Scientific Corporation, C.A. No. 18-392-GBW (D. Del.) addressing a dispute about whether plaintiffs could offer evidence of copying or other secondary considerations after they failed to disclose those argument until just before trial.

In a lengthy oral order, Judge Williams held that they had waited too long and are now precluded from offering evidence of copying or certain other secondary considerations.

According to the Court, plaintiff had failed to disclose its secondary considerations arguments despite numerous opportunities:

ORAL ORDER: . . . Plaintiff had several prior opportunities to advise [defendant] …

Artist's rendition of a pretrial order printed without tabs
Artist's rendition of a pretrial order printed without tabs JJ Ying, Unsplash

[UPDATE: Thank you to all who flagged the typo in the original title. No, the irony is not lost on me that we had a typo in the word "careful"!]

Oof, this one may have been painful. Last month in Victaulic Company v. ASC Engineered Solutions, LLC, C.A. No. 20-887-GBW-JLH (D. Del.), the defendant apparently asserted at least two non-infringement defenses, one based on a "groove" limitation and one based on a "radius" limitation.

The defendant asserted the groove limitation defense in response to a summary judgment motion. Then, the following series of events occurred:

  • December 6, 2022: The Court denies the summary judgment …

Kiwi Split in Half
engin akyurt, Unsplash

In Prolitec Inc. v. ScentAir Technologies, LLC, C.A. No. 20-984-RGA-MPT (D. Del.), the defendant brought counterclaims asserting their own four patents, in addition to the three originally asserted by the plaintiff.

During fact discovery, the plaintiff filed an FRCP 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings under § 101. Defendant pushed back, arguing that the motion was untimely—both because it was filed two years into the case (i.e., it was too late), and because of "the Court’s general disfavor of multiple rounds of dispositive motions" (i.e., it was too early). D.I. 115 at 1.

The plaintiff argued that its motion was timely, as FRCP 12(c) just requires the motion to be filed …

We'll just handle this part first...
We'll just handle this part first... Diliara Garifullina, Unsplash

I always think it's worth paying attention to how the judges handle the presentation of evidence at trial, changes that may seem small (like bifurcation) can have a big impact on how the trial actually goes. A bifurcated trial can obviously lead to a much shorter trial, if the defendant prevails on the first phase. But even if it doesn't, bifurcation really impacts the kinds of trial themes that the plaintiff can put up, for example making it harder to paint the defendant as a bad actor from the start.

Judge Williams recognized that effect earlier this month in his order granting bifurcation of a patent trial—and suggested that restricting plaintiff from presenting those themes favors bifurcation:

The Court finds that a reduction in prejudice to BSC weighs in favor of bifurcation. [Defendant] BSC argues that [plaintiff] UT is " likely to tell a story" that UT " got an important patent and told [BSC] about their technology; [BSC] was greedy, intentionally stole the invention," and profited therefrom; and UT "got nothing." D.I. 248 at 10. That story, BSC argues, has nothing "to do with the objective question of whether the [Accused Products] meet[] all the limitations" of the Asserted Claims of the '296 patent . . . or whether the patent is invalid." Id. UT does not challenge BSC's description of UT's likely trial narrative. . . . Rather, UT argues, the need to present a piecemeal case to the jury will prejudice UT. Id.
. . . UT's description of BSC's alleged willful infringement could encourage a jury to find that BSC infringed the '296 patent for reasons unrelated to a comparison of the Accused Products to the Asserted Claims. The Court also [previously] found that "UT's evidence of post-suit willfulness is limited." . . . That finding increases the risk that UT's willfulness evidence could bias the jury's infringement and invalidity decisions. . . . When the Court weighs the risk of prejudice to BSC against the ability to mitigate that prejudice (e.g., through a jury instruction), the Court finds that the potential to reduce prejudice to BSC weighs in favor of bifurcation.

That's interesting, because (obviously) parties very often try to ...

"Sure our damages figure sounds big, but look how big this other number is!" AI-Generated, displayed with permission

This week, Judge Andrews issued an order on the six motions in limine that the parties filed in Sprint Communications Company, L.P. v. Mediacom Communications Corp., C.A. No. 17-1736-RGA (D. Del. Nov. 14, 2022).

The order is short and to the point, and doesn't identify what the MILs relate to. But if the docket shows that there are at least two MILs here worth mentioning, if only because they come up so often.

Prior Proceedings

The defendant first moved to exclude the outcomes of multiple prior cases, as well as pending cases against co-defendants. Plaintiff responded that the prior …