A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


EDPA
United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Stick figure breaking a chain
AI-Generated, displayed with permission

All of the sitting judges in the District of Delaware require, in their form scheduling orders, that each party (or each side) may file no more than three motions in limine.

But winning a MIL can really change the scope of trial by precluding key evidence or arguments. In complex patent cases, parties very often want more (sometimes many more) than three MILs to shape the trial in their favor.

One common attempted solution is to merge multiple MILs together. Instead of "exclude late-disclosed doctrine of equivalents theory" and "exclude a late-disclosed exhibit related to copying," a defendant might file a MIL entitled "exclude untimely theories and evidence" that relates to both of those things, …

"What do you mean, attorney argument! This is unbiased expert testimony about how awesome our positions are." Braydon Anderson, Unsplash

Well, this is a new one for me. In Wirtgen America, Inc. v. Caterpillar, Inc., C.A. No. 17-770-JDW-MPT (D. Del. Jan. 16, 2024), the plaintiff had previously brought an action in the ITC against the defendant, and won—achieving an exclusion order that stood up (in part) on appeal.

Now, in a District of Delaware action on the same patents, plaintiff argues willfulness based in part on the previous ITC ruling. Defendant tried to offer an expert who would testify about how great its defenses were at the ITC:

Caterpillar offers Mr. Bartkowski to opine on how …

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)

Notes
The Climate Reality Project, Unsplash

We've written before about the risks of a deponent consulting with counsel during a deposition. This week, visiting Judge Wolson ordered a deposition reopened after counsel did just that:

AND NOW, this 27th day of November, 2023, upon consideration of Stragent’s Motion For Sanctions Against VCUSA Pursuant To Fed. R. Civ. P. Rule 30(d)(2) For VCUSA’s Violation Of Local Rule 30.6 And Established Law (D.I. 100), and for the reasons set forth on the record during a hearing with the Parties, it is ORDERED that the Motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART as follows:
1. The Motion is GRANTED, to the extent Stragent seeks to reopen the deposition of [the deponent] …

Crow
Greg Rosenke, Unsplash

This post continues our Halloween theme of things that induce nightmares and shake the hearts of the stoutest Delaware counsel.

The parties in Stragent, LLC v. Volvo Car USA, LLC, C.A. No. 22-293-JDW (D. Del.) filed a joint appendix of exhibits alongside some supplemental SJ briefing. The defendant filed a motion to seal its SJ brief, which apparently discussed internal software specifications.

The Court granted the motion to seal the SJ brief, but criticized the brief in strong terms:

Volvo seeks to file its supplemental summary judgment brief under seal, but it’s supporting brief doesn’t say much. For example, while Volvo makes generic references to “proprietary commercial, financial and business information” and …

Ghost
Zane Lee, Unsplash

Ouch. This week in MED-EL Elektromedizinische Geräte Ges.m.b.H. v. Advanced Bionics LLC, C.A. No. 18-1530-JDW (D. Del. Oct. 30, 2023), Judge Wolson addressed a motion in limine to exclude testimony from both of the accused infringer's witnesses on their prior use defense.

The accused infringer didn't offer expert testimony at all on invalidity, according to the briefing. D.I. 399 at 3. Instead, it asserted a prior use defense in its contentions, presumably intending get it in through fact witness testimony.

The patentee first moved in limine to preclude the defense due to a lack of expert testimony. But the Court held that a party can present an invalidity defense without it—and compared the motion to an improper SJ motion:

The first part of AB’s Motion In Limine #1 is a summary judgment motion in disguise. MED-EL asserts invalidity in this case. If AB had a basis to argue that the absence of expert testimony dooms that claim, then it should have moved for summary judgment on the issue. It didn’t, and it can’t use an in limine motion to dispose of MED-EL’s claim. If AB believes that the lack of expert testimony means that MED-EL cannot meet its burden, then AB can seek relief under Rule 50 at the close of MED-EL’s case at trial.

(We've talked before about the risks of bringing what should be an SJ motion as a MIL.)

In other words, offering no expert testimony could be OK. The accused infringer, however, also failed to ...

An attorney's view after many a deposition—if you're lucky enough to catch a flight back that night.
An attorney's view after many a deposition—if you're lucky enough to catch a flight back that night. Eva Darron, Unsplash

This On Friday, Judge Wolson addressed—and rejected—an effort by an ANDA defendant to limit deposition discovery on the basis that discovery is, in its view, just not that important in an ANDA action. As set they put it:

This is an ANDA case. Black letter law holds that the infringement issues in an ANDA case are controlled by the ANDA itself. . . . Months ago, Defendants produced the ANDA and ANDA product samples from which the relevant infringement analysis must be derived. Plaintiff has now noticed the deposition of both Defendants and seven individuals. But the information that …

Sealed
Zoya Loonohod, Unsplash

Judge Wolson of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has taken a number of patent cases as a visiting judge in the District of Delaware over the past few years, including at least one that has gone to trial recently.

One aspect of practice before Judge Wolson that may be unexpected for regular Delaware practitioners is how he handles sealing of documents.

Sealing Materials Is Typically Easy in the District of Delaware (Maybe Too Easy)

Normally, in Delaware, parties are used to just filing things under seal, and then filing a redacted version seven days later. No motion to seal is generally required and, depending on the judge, there is little risk that a redacted version will …

We've talked a lot lately about efforts by some of the D. Del. judges to push back against over-redaction of sealed filings. In particular, Judge Andrews has recently made clear that parties must not redact non-confidential information in exhibits—e.g., the parties must make line-by-line redactions instead of just redacting exhibits in their entirety. This increases public access but, obviously, is less convenient for parties and counsel.

Last week, visiting Judge Goldberg addressed whether a third party seeking to seal information was required to make similar line-by-line redactions:

The settlement agreements also contain several non-financial terms, such as the names and addresses of the corporate entities subject to the agreement, definitions, notifications, and general provisions governing confidentiality, assignment, choice of …