A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


CFC
The Honorable Colm F. Connolly

Coffee Equals
Charles "Duck" Unitas, Unsplash

Most patent litigators know that the reverse doctrine of equivalents exists, and provides a way to argue non-infringement even if an accused product meets the literal terms of a claim. But it tends to be one of those issues that floats around in the ether, waiting for the right case, and it is rarely applied in practice.

Judge Connolly had an occasion last week to address the issue, resolving a motion for summary judgment of no reverse DOE, and took the opportunity to dig into some of the history of the reverse doctrine of equivalents. He first quoted the Federal Circuit's description of what the doctrine is:

the reverse doctrine of equivalents . . …

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The Eccentric, Possessed Photography, Unsplash

Anticipation and obviousness naturally have quite a bit in common. You frequently see the defenses listed in the alternative like, "the Velma reference anticipates the '666 Patent, or, in the alternative, The Velma reference in combination with the Daphne, Fred, and Shaggy references renders the '666 patent obvious." Indeed, you see this so commonly, that you might wonder if it's even necessary to specifically include the anticipation argument in your contentions/ expert reports/ pretrial order/ etc., since more or less all of it will be included in the obviousness case.

The answer is yes, you do have to include it. It is, in fact, very bad if you don't.

The defendant in BioDelivery Scis. …

Nope
Daniel Herron, Unsplash

We've written about how Chief Judge Connolly has taken a stand on willfulness and indirect infringement allegations, ruling unambiguously that a lawsuit itself cannot be the basis for knowledge of infringement to support a claim of willfulness or inducement.

Today, he took it one step further, granting summary judgment of no willfulness even though plaintiff accused new products that were released after the complaint:

Boston Scientific's . . . argument is that summary judgment is precluded because "Nevro was put on notice of Boston Scientific's [#]933 and [#]193 Patents and its infringement of those patents at least as early as December 9, 2016, when Boston Scientific filed its 2016 Complaint," and "[r]ather than make any effort …

Most summary judgment motions in patent cases are denied. That's one reason Judge Connolly issued a standing order earlier this year requiring that parties rank their summary judgment motions and explaining that in most cases he will not consider a party's summary judgment motion if he has previously denied a summary judgment motion by that party.

Judge Connolly noted that "the complexity, voluminous record, competing expert testimony, and scorched-earth lawyering in the typical patent case make it almost inevitable that a disputed material fact will preclude summary judgment." Nonetheless, he expressed hope "that an effectively managed summary judgment practice can bring about efficiencies and cost savings."

A few days ago, in Chromadex, Inc. v. Elysium Health, Inc., C.A. No. 18-1434-CFC, Judge Connolly granted a motion for summary judgment of invalidity under 35 U.S.C. § 101, just weeks before trial...

JP 1992-136787

Last year, we posted about an interesting result in a Delaware patent trial, where Judge Connolly excluded a Japanese Patent Office Utility Model Publication after the defendant failed to offer sufficient evidence of public accessibility (and actually offered some evidence of inaccessibility).

As we explained at the time, the defendant had tried to avoid IPR estoppel by arguing that it could not have found the reference in a reasonable search, but then argued that the reference was sufficiently publicly accessible to be a prior art reference. The Court rejected that argument, holding that the JPO publication was not publicly accessible and couldn't be used as prior art.

We noted this was a great opportunity for the the Federal Circuit to …

In a post-trial Hatch-Waxman opinion issued this week, Chief Judge Connolly sided with the defendant regarding the sole infringement dispute: whether the defendant's ANDA product had an infringing pH. The plaintiffs' patents required that the claimed compositions have a pH of between 3.7 and 3.9. The defendant's ANDA undisputedly required that the defendant's generic product have a pH between 3.4 and 3.6. Importantly, the ANDA required that the product stay within the 3.4-3.6 range both upon release and during the stability testing period (24 months).

Given that the ANDA's requirements are binding on the manufacturer of the generic product, and given that the ANDA is the operative document for the purposes of the infringement inquiry in Hatch-Waxman cases, you might think that would be the end of the inquiry. Indeed, Judge Connolly noted that in these circumstances, a judgment of noninfringement "must necessarily ensue."

However, the plaintiffs challenged this conclusion...

Server
electronic wire lot photo, Massimo Botturi, Unsplash

Given the liberal amendment standard in federal court, it is not surprising that plaintiffs faced with § 101 challenges to their asserted patents may attempt to introduce factual issues through amended pleadings to avoid a dismissal.

Judge Connolly recently permitted the plaintiff in the consolidated Realtime Data litigation to amend its complaints after he had twice found plaintiff's patents (involving data compression) invalid under § 101. RealTime Data LLC v. Array Networks Inc., C.A. No. 17-800-CFC.
But the amendments were not enough to save plaintiff's patents, and Judge Connolly walked through the amendments to explain why.

First, the amended complaints asserted that certain claims were not representative of others, and that different limitations "must be considered separately for for the purposes of § 101." But these statements were deemed "conclusory," and in any event, the plaintiff failed to "explain why these limitations are relevant to subject-matter eligibility."

Second, he found that all but one of the "new" claim construction positions were already before the Court, and the remaining proposal (to construe "data accelerator" as "hardware or software with one or more compression ...

Is the dam about to break on over-redaction of filings?
Is the dam about to break on over-redaction of filings? Thomas Dumortier, Unsplash

Most patent cases involve a protective order, and the parties tend mark documents other than prior art as confidential or attorney's eyes only. As a result, many of the more substantive filings—particularly discovery motions, summary judgment motions, and pretrial orders—are filed under seal.

Unlike some other jurisdictions, particularly the Northern District of California, the District of Delaware's procedure for filing under seal is not burdensome. Once a protective order is entered, no motion is required to file a document under seal, and the parties simply file redactions within seven days.

Over time, parties have become more and more liberal with their redactions, often heavily redacting sealed …

MTD

Chief Judge Connolly issued an interesting opinion on Friday, denying a motion to dismiss a DJ complaint in favor of an earlier-filed infringement action in the Western District of Texas.

The DJ case is the second Delaware action between these parties. After Judge Connolly found the claims in the first case invalid under § 101, the patentee brought an infringement action in Texas on a "virtually identical" continuation patent.

Although the Texas case was filed first, Judge Connolly declined to apply the first-to-file rule. He based his decision not only on judicial economy (i.e., he had already devoted substantive attention to the earlier, "virtually identical" patent), but also on the patentee's "litigation gamesmanship":

Second, SmileDirectClub' …

March of the Trolls
Paulo O, CC BY 2.0

Continuing our theme, another subject that often comes up in defending NPE complaints is whether the NPE's often-lackluster complaint may be vulnerable to an FRCP 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss (and whether that motion can be brought economically).

Judge Connolly today dismissed a complaint by Swirlate IP, an (alleged) IP Edge entity, because the complaint mostly parroted the language of the claims and offered an unspecific website URL.

Here is an example of a typical paragraph from the complaint, which mirrors the claim language but also offers slightly more:

21. Upon information and belief, the Accused Instrumentality performs the step of performing the second transmission by transmitting the second data symbols over a …