A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

The Honorable Colm F. Connolly

"That's Jim. He's been like that since he forgot to mention our fifth non-infringement argument in the JMOL after he was up until 4am doing exhibit objections. Turns out that's the one we needed to preserve." Sabina Music Rich, Unsplash

Rule 50(a) motions are truly the stuff of nightmares. If you are unfamiliar (experienced trial attorneys can skip the next two paragraphs), almost all patent cases involve post-trial briefing, where the losing side seeks judgment as a matter of law on the basis that no reasonably jury could find for the opposing party, even though that's exactly what the jury did.

Post-trial JMOL motions are not throwaway motions. Parties actually win them. And if you don't win your post-trial Rule 50(b) motion, what do you do? Appeal and try again, based on the arguments you preserved in that motion. These motions are critically important—albeit, only if you lose at trial.

But the post-trial Rule 50(b) motion for judgment as a matter of law is actually a renewed motion. To include an issue in your Rule 50(b) motion, you have to first make a 50(a) motion on the issue, and that motion must be made before the case is submitted to the jury. Otherwise, the issue is waived for post-trial briefing.

The problem, of course, is that you have to make your Rule 50(a) motion at the exact moment you are most stressed and concerned about actually winning the trial, when the motion feels like a giant distraction. And you have to do it knowing that you will almost certainly lose the 50(a) motion. The point is to preserve the arguments, not to win.

Trial teams handle this many different ways, but the most common seems to boil down to ...

Stick Figures Fighting

For attorneys who practice in D. Del., Judge Connolly's opinion yesterday in Pharmacyclics LLC v. Alvogen Pine Brook LLC, C.A. No. 19-434-CFC (D. Del. Apr. 30, 2024) is a real page turner, and well worth reading. If you want to avoid spoilers, go read it now! It's attached below, and it's only 11 pages.

Spoilers below:

It's rare for a judge to conclude that either side—let alone both—misled the Court and litigated vexatiously. But that's just what Judge Connolly found here, after the plaintiff moved for fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285.

In holding that the defendants litigated vexatiously, the Court offered two primary examples of their misdeeds. The first relates to unsupportable allegations …

While we were on break, Judge Connolly issued an opinion in one of the lesser-covered, but most interesting, of the Mavexar suits.

Sandra Iglesias, Unsplash

Power Integrations, Inc. v. Waverly Licensing LLC, C.A. No. 22-1554-CFC (D. Del), is one of my favorite complaints ever. Waverly -- allegedly one of the Mavexar companies -- sued Power Integrations for infringement in Texas right before Judge Connolly held his first hearing in the Mavexar matters in November of 2022.

In a truly inspired move, Power integrations then filed a DJ complaint in Delaware (its state of incorporation) alleging that "Defendants have engaged in a broad and aggressive campaign to harass and threaten many companies, including Power Integrations, with assertions of patent infringement liability . . . ." Id. at D.I. 1. Notably, they managed to get this complaint on file by the end of November 2022.

The complaint is well worth a read, but the best bit is definitely when they point out that Waverly's official address is actually an empty shelf in a Staples:

In an assignment filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the ’246 patent, defendant Array IP LLC identified itself as having the same address that defendant Waverly Licensing LLC lists in the Waverly-PI complaint as its principal place of business (3333 Preston Road, Suite 300, Frisco, Texas 75034). (Id.) However, that address is actually a Staples store . . . Moreover, the specific box number that defendant Waverly occasionally lists in its court filings as its “principal place of business” within that “suite” is an open shelf.

Id. at paragraphs 12-13.

There are pictures and everything, it's really great.

This complaint prompted all of the DJ defendants -- which included Waverly, Mavexar itself, and several others -- to ...

AI-Generated, displayed with permission

Why did physicists refuse to write about the Antitrust Paradox? Because every time they tried to define the relevant market share, the observer effect kicked in, and the monopoly disappeared. (I hope readers who have dual Bork/quark interests enjoyed that.)

Today’s highlighted opinion proceeds from trademark law, crosses into antitrust law, and has implications for patent law. In it, Judge Connolly rejects a plaintiff's attempt to argue that the defendants' prior filing of trademark litigation against competitor gave rise to anti-trust and unfair competition claims.

Noerr-Pennington Precludes Some Tort and Anti-Trust Claims Based on Litigation—Unless It Was Sham Litigation

Judge Connolly explained that the Noerr-Pennington doctrine provides immunity from certain types of claims that a plaintiff …

"Not invalid" may be a double negative, but it's definitely not the same as "valid." Markus Spiske, Unsplash

Chief Judge Connolly issued a short opinion this morning denying a motion for summary judgment that a patent was not patent ineligible, in C.R. Bard, Inc. v. Angiodynamics, Inc., C.A. No. 20-1544-CFC-SRF (D. Del. Jan. 3, 2024).

In short, the patentee had previously succeeded on the issue of § 101 ineligibility at the Federal Circuit, which reversed a lower-court finding of ineligibility and held that:

[T]he asserted claims in Bard’s three patents are directed to eligible subject matter under § 101.

C.R. Bard, Inc. v. Med. Components, Inc., C.A. Nos. 2022-1136, 2022-1186, 2023 U.S. App. LEXIS …

Five Candles
Steve Johnson, Unsplash

Chief Judge Connolly's scheduling order requires parties to rank their Daubert motions, and gives the Court the discretion to automatically deny all lower-ranked motions if it denies any one motion. In other words, if a party files five Daubert motions, and the Court grants the first-ranked motion but denies the second, the Court can then deny motions three, four, and five:

If the Court decides to deny a motion filed by the party, barring exceptional reasons determined sua sponte by the Court, the Court will not review any further Daubert motions filed by the party.

It has a similar provision for summary judgment motions Thus, it's important that parties split up their motions and rank them. …

Maybe leave the headphones at the office.
Maybe leave the headphones at the office. Christopher Gower, Unsplash

Earlier this year, the District of Delaware implemented a new policy of requiring bar cards, or an order from the Court, to bring electronics into the courthouse.

Courthouse staff have accepted out-of-state bar cards just fine. But one recurring issue is that some states simply do not issue bar cards, or only issue them optionally. Not all out-of-state attorneys have them.

As a result, in the lead up to hearings, parties often file stipulations or unopposed motions for leave for various people to bring electronics into the courthouse. The Court usually—but not always—grants these.

This post is just a reminder that, in such stipulations and motions, it's best …

AI-Generated, displayed with permission

We all know what ellipses (". . .") mean, right? It means that something in a quote was omitted. According to Bluebook Rule 5.3:

“Omissions of a word or words is generally indicated by the insertion of an ellipsis, three periods separated by spaces and set off by a space before the first and after the last period (“♦.♦.♦.♦”), to take the place of the word or words omitted. Note that “♦” indicates a space.”

In yesterday's lengthy Mavexar opinion, however, Chief Judge Connolly pointed out that ellipses in a transcript can mean something else entirely. They are to be used to

reflect the fact [that the witness] trailed off and was silent for a …

Here you can see Mavexar, IP Edge, and their counsel after yesterday's opinion.
Here you can see Mavexar, IP Edge, and their counsel after yesterday's opinion. Mae Mu, Unsplash

Wow! Today, in the Mavexar cases, Chief Judge Connolly issued a huge, 102-page opinion referring plaintiffs' counsel to the Texas Supreme Court's Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee, the PTO, and the Department of Justice to determine whether counsel violated various rules—or federal laws:

As it appears that [three Mavexar employees] engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, I will refer them to the Texas Supreme Court's Unauthorized Practice of Law Committee.
* * *
I believe it appropriate to bring these matters to the attention of the PTO and the Department of Justice to allow them to conduct further inquiry into whether the PTO's rules or [18 U.S.C.] § 1001 were violated. The Department may also deem it appropriate to investigate whether the strategy employed by IP Edge to hide from the defendants in these cases and the Court real parties in interest, including France Brevets, violated any federal laws.

Nimitz Technologies LLC, v. CNET Media, Inc., C.A. No. 21-1247-CFC, D.I. 34 at 98, 100 (D. Del. Nov. 27, 2023).

If you're not familiar with them, Mavexar appears to be an entity that recruits people to serve as the sole members of shell LLCs that assert patents. The recruited individuals may not fully understand what is going on, and may get something like 5-10% of the proceeds of the patent infringement suits in exchange for accepting all of the risk. It looks like Mavexar sets up the entities, hires the attorneys, and does the work of selecting targets and even drafting claim charts.

The opinion goes through exactly what these entities and attorneys did—at least, as far as the Court can tell from the factual record and their production, which was apparently full of holes.

In short, the attorneys acted as if they were attorneys for Mavexar and IP edge rather than their nominal clients (the LLCs asserting the patents). They generally didn't communicate with their clients until Chief Judge Connolly started pressing them, which was months after they had been asserting and settling these cases.

Instead, the Court describes how they worked almost exclusively with Mavexar / IP Edge employees. Given that Mavexar ...

"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 …