A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


DED
United States District Court for the District of Delaware

Dollar Bills
Sharon McCutcheon, Unsplash

It seems like litigation funding is becoming a more active area for discovery disputes lately—a trend that is likely to continue after Judge Connolly granted a dismissal based on a litigation funding agreement late last year. See Uniloc USA, Inc. v. Motorola Mobility, LLC, C.A. No. 17-1658-CFC, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 244512, at *25 (D. Del. Dec. 30, 2020).

Last week, Judge Burke confirmed a previous denial of litigation funding discovery, offering some additional thoughts:

ORAL ORDER: The Court, having now reviewed the parties' supplemental letter briefs . . . in which Defendants ask the Court to reconsider its March 2, 2021 Order . . . , hereby notes as follows: . . …

COVID-19
CDC / Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS

Since our last update, one of the jury trials set for May has been postponed indefinitely (Johnson-Krumm v. City of Seaford), and it appears from the public docket that trial never went forward in JHL Pharmaceuticals, LLC v. PuraCap Laboratories, LLC.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel, as two cases in front of Judge Andrews appear to be headed for jury trials in the next month.

The first, USA v. Blue, is set to begin on Monday morning. As we've written before, the court is currently equipped to hold only one jury trial at a time, and Judge Andrews has designated …

In a summary judgment opinion issued on April 20, Judge Connolly found claims of two patents indefinite because they included a limitation directed to applying a composition "in an amount effective to enhance the condition of the skin." Judge Connolly reasoned that whether he applied the plain meaning of the term or the meaning ascribed to the term by the specification, "the determination of whether a person's skin is enhanced provides a paradigmatic example of indefiniteness." As he pointed out, "Beauty . . . is 'in the eyes of the beholder.'"

Arrows on Sign
Adrià Tormo, Unsplash

In another ruling from the In Re ChanBond litigation as it approaches trial, Judge Andrews today issued an in-depth opinion granting a motion in limine to exclude reference to prior expert testimony from a related IPR proceeding, on the grounds that the testimony is hearsay.

Plaintiff sought to admit the material as former testimony under FRE 804(b)(1), because it is helpful to its infringement case. The rule requires, however, that the former testimony was offered against the parties' predecessor who had "an opportunity and similar motive to develop it."

Here, Judge Andrews found that an IPR petitioner's motive in developing expert testimony to show invalidity is different from a defendant's motive developing its non-infringement position:

I …

Judge Andrew's In re Chanbond opinion an Friday focused primarily on reopening discovery, but it also addressed a second issue, which I thought merited a separate post.

Shortly before trial, in a reply brief, Defendants sought production of an "Advisory Services Agreement" between the plaintiff and third party IPNav. They had previously informally requested the document at a deposition, and renewed that request as part of their motion to reopen discovery after the document's importance became apparent in light of the standing dispute. Defendants request at the deposition was apparently on the record, and Plaintiff indicated it would look for the document, but Defendants did not follow up with a formal document request:

I agree with Plaintiff that Defendants …

In In Re Chanbond, LLC Patent Litigation, Judge Andrews denied a request for post-pretrial-order discovery on Friday. The request came after Defendants received an e-mail from attorneys from third-party Deirdre Leane alleging that her consent was required for any settlement between the defendants and plaintiff ChanBond:

On September 2, 2020, Defendants received an email from Ms. Leane’s counsel, informing them of a dispute between Ms. Leane and ChanBond. . . . The email stated, “As we read Section 8.3 of the ISA, Ms. Leane’s written consent is required given that a license is a transfer of an interest in the patents-in-suit, which in turn are material assets of ChanBond.” . . . The email warned, “[P]lease take notice …

Not today litigants
Not today litigants Pavel Kononenko, Unsplash

We've noted previously that it is tremendously difficult to win a motion for interlocutory appeal in Delaware (and pretty much everywhere else). So it comes as no surprise that litigants—innovators all—will occasionally come up with new ways to achieve the same result without all the difficulties attendant with actually moving. We now know that at least one of these methods does not work.

The parties in Malvern Panalytical, Inc. v. TA Instruments-Waters LLC, C.A. No. 19-2157-RGA (D. Del.) filed a joint stipulation dismissing the 5-patent case following a claim construction opinion that apparently definitively absolved the defendant of infringing 2 of the patents. Id., D.I. 163. The stipulation, however, only dismissed the claims as to those 2 patents with prejudice while specifically reserving the plaintiff's right to "reassert the [remaining] [p]atents in the future, including in the event of a reversal and remand to this Court following the expected appeal from the final judgment entered pursuant to this Joint Stipulation of Non-Infringement." Id.

Despite that fact that this was a joint stipulation ...

Earlier today, Judge Burke unsealed an interesting order addressing the applicability of the common-interest doctrine to communications between a generic pharmaceutical company and its API manufacturer.

No attorneys directly participated in most of the underlying communications, but the defendants argued that they shared "a common legal interest" with their API manufacturer in avoiding a lawsuit "and that their communications furthered that interest." Although Judge Burke found that this "argument has some initial, superficial appeal[,]" in that "the subject of these communications is in some sense legal in nature[,]" he concluded that any shared legal interest came too late:

when one contextualizes the communications with regard to what was happening in the relevant time period, Defendants have not met …

In response to early Section 101 motions, plaintiffs often assert that claim construction is necessary before a ruling on patent eligibility can occur. For plaintiffs looking for quick settlements and dismissals, avoiding an early ruling on Section 101 is a win. In most cases, successfully arguing that claim construction is required pushes the timeline out for resolution of Section 101 issues substantially. That is not always the case, however. Judge Stark recently ordered an "expedited Markman proceeding" on terms the plaintiff had identified during Section 101 briefing, short-circuiting the usual process and setting up a possible second round of Section 101 motions.

High Five
High Five Jonas Vincent, Unsplash

Judge Connolly put this oral order on the docket on Thursday:

ORAL ORDER: The Court has read Plaintiffs' April 7 letter . . . . The Court understood Mr. Groombridge's response to be in substance what Plaintiffs outline in their letter. The Court asked an imprecise question. But the Court had in mind what Mr. Groombridge had in mind. Mr. Groombridge has appeared before the Court on numerous occasions and the Court appreciates and respects his practice of conceding points he should concede and getting to the heart of the disputed matters before the Court. All counsel would do well to follow his lead in that regard.

Amgen Inc. v. Hospira, Inc., C.A. …