A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

The Honorable Gregory B. Williams

Andrew Russell

When a party asks to do something outside of the time limits set by the scheduling order, the Court looks to whether there is "good cause" under FRCP 16(b)(4) to modify the scheduling order. Good cause requires diligence, generally meaning that the movant could not have reasonably met the deadline it's trying to move.

Last week we got two examples of diligence analyses from the Court, one that found that a party was diligent, and one that didn't. I thought it would be interesting to line them up and compare them.

"Immediately" = Good Cause

First, Judge Fallon found good cause where a plaintiff sought to depose a third-party witness after the close of fact discovery, after the …

Split Cup
Tania Melnyczuk, Unsplash

Most judges in the District of Delaware limit the parties to three motions in limine per side. Visiting judges sometimes permit more, but I get the sense that this limit is something native D. Del. judges generally don't want the parties to change when submitting a proposed scheduling order.

But I can't recall a patent case where the parties did not use all of their motions in limine, and want more (even if they didn't ask the Court). These evidentiary issues can just have a large effect on trial. Plus, with a mountain of work bearing down on you in the leadup to trial, it's great to think you might knock out some opposing …

Trash Cans
Lucas Beck, Unsplash

The defendants in Corteva Agriscience LLC v. Monsanto Company, C.A. No. 22-1046-GBW (D. Del. Apr. 27, 2023) moved to stay after a third party initiated an ex parte reexamination of the patents-in-suit.

To meet the "simplification" factor in moving to stay, defendants offered to drop their obviousness-type double patenting defense:

The first factor—whether granting the stay will simplify the issues for trial—disfavors a stay. Defendants assert a stay would simplify the case. First, Bayer claims it will agree to not argue that the '555 Patent is invalid for obvious-type double patenting ("OTDP") on the basis of U.S. Patent No. 11,149,283 ("the '238 patent" ) and that dropping this argument will simplify the issues for trial. D.I. 41 at 9.

The Court quickly dispatched with that idea, noting that it was essentially a throw-away argument:

However, Defendants recognize that Corteva can overcome the OTDP argument if Corteva files a terminal disclaimer. 3 Id. at 9-10. Because it is likely that this OTDP argument will not make it to trial anyway, the Court does not find that Bayer's offer to drop the argument will simplify the case.

The Court found that the factors did not favor a stay, especially considering the plaintiff had added two additional patents in the time since defendants filed their motion, and those two patents are not subject to re-examination. Beyond that, a stay would likely preclude injunctive relief (due to a patent expiration).

All told, it's not clear how they could have prevailed on this motion at all after the plaintiff asserted the two additional patents.

"Did I remember to disclose my infringement counter-arguments? Ah well, I'll just argue that they're responsive." Tim Bogdanov, Unsplash

Judge Williams unsealed a detailed Pennypack decision Friday, where he struck an expert's infringement argument after the party failed to disclose it in their contentions.

The motion and brief provide some helpful context here. The defendant moved to strike material in the expert's opening report that apparently responded for the first time to arguments made in the defendant's non-infringement contentions. Cirba Inc. v. VMWare, Inc., C.A. No. 19-742-GBW, D.I. 1460 at 1 (D. Del. Nov. 28, 2022); Id., D.I. 1461 at 2-3.

The Court rejected an attempt to argue that the argument was "responsive" to a filing …

"Your honor, we move to turn the apple, so that the jury can only see the side that's not rotten." Giuseppe CUZZOCREA, Unsplash

Yesterday, Judge Williams issued an opinion ruling on motions in limine for the trial starting next week in Cirba Inc. (d/b/a DENSIFY) v. VMWare, Inc., C.A. No. 19-742-GBW (D. Del.) (a case we've discussed several times before).

In it, he addressed several MILs. These opinions are always interesting, but given all of the recent discussion of litigation funding, I thought Judge Williams' order on the plaintiff's litigation funding MIL is worth noting.

Plaintiffs in the case moved in limine to preclude reference to their litigation funding arrangements:

With respect to Plaintiffs …

Stop Sign
Luke van Zyl, Unsplash

We've talked about how it's generally understood that parties can agree to modify certain deadlines in the District of Delaware without a stipulation, such as discovery response deadlines, deposition dates before the close of fact discovery, or deadlines under the Default Standard.

We were careful to exclude depositions occurring after the close of fact discovery from that list. After all, the fact discovery deadline is set by court order. Thus, parties often stipulate to take fact depositions after the close of fact discovery.

An opinion from Judge Williams yesterday held that these stips are unnecessary, and the parties can take depositions after the close of fact discovery without any stip to that effect:

ORAL ORDER: The Court has reviewed the Stipulation to take deposition outside fact discovery ...

It seems like only yesterday I was discussing the rare case where a third party moved to unseal the docket in a DE case. In fact, it was 12 days ago—time flies when blogging.

Time flying
AI-Generated, displayed with permission

Well it happened again, and this time we have an opinion.

The intervenors in CBV, Inc. v. ChanBond, LLC, C.A. No. 21-1456 (D. Del. Mar 28, 2023) (Mem. Order) were shareholders in the defendant, Chanbond, who sought to unseal various and sundry filings including the complaint, answer, and briefing on a TRO. The parties (perhaps readers of the blog?) largely agreed to unseal the filings but insisted that the dollar amount of a confidential settlement agreement should …

Photograph of all of plaintiff's likelihood of success arguments securely located in one basket.
Photograph of all of plaintiff's likelihood of success arguments securely located in one basket. Court, Unsplash

Judge Williams ruled on a preliminary judgment motion yesterday in Cirba Inc. v. VMWare, Inc., C.A. No. 19-742-GBW (D. Del. Mar. 9, 2023). In that case, the plaintiff had originally gone to trial back in 2020, and won a $237 million jury verdict, plus a jury finding of willful infringement. Id., D.I. 550 at 6.

The Court previously vacated that win, however, because it turns out that one of the plaintiffs, Cirba Inc., had assigned all rights in the patent at issue to another entity, Cirba IP. The Court held that the re-assignment meant that Cirba Inc. lacked standing such that it should not have been part of the trial, and that including Cirba Inc. in the trial impacted the arguments enough to warrant a new trial. Id. at D.I. 752, 946.

Yesterday, the Court addressed plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction pending the new trial. It looks like it was an easy decision for the Court, because plaintiff relied entirely on the previous trial win to show a likelihood of success—despite the fact that the Court had granted a new trial:

Rather than brief why it will likely prove infringement, Cirba summarily states that it "is likely to succeed on the merits of its patent infringement claim because it already has," referring to the vacated verdict from the first trial. . . . This Court, however, granted VMware's motion for a new trial. . . . "[I]t is quite clear, that the order granting the new trial has the effect of vacating the former judgment, and to render it null and void, and the parties are left in the same situation as if no trial had ever taken place in the cause." United States v. Ayres, 76 U.S. 608, 610 (1869). Thus, Cirba has made no "clear showing" that it will likely prove infringement.

It's not hard to see what plaintiff was thinking here. On the surface, the Court ...

Is the reign of Pennypack coming to an end?
Is the reign of Pennypack coming to an end? AI-Generated

We talked earlier this year about a decision by Judge Burke that struck a parties' final infringement contentions under a good cause standard, and declined to apply the much looser Pennypack standard.

Today, citing Judge Burke's opinion, Judge Williams likewise declined to rely on Pennypack in striking late-served "Amended Final Invalidity Contentions":

According to the Court's Scheduling Order, Defendants must serve their Final Invalidity Contentions to Chervon by December 17, 2020, which they did so. D.I. 37 if 7(f). On July 27, 2022, Defendants served their Amended Final Invalidity Contentions. D.I. 316 at 1; D.I. 319 at 1. Defendants did not request leave from the Court to amend their Final …

Mark Rohan, Unsplash

Yesterday, Judge Williams issued a claim construction opinion in Persawvere, Inc. v. Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation, C.A. No. 21-400-GBW (D. Del. Feb. 21, 2023).

In the joint claim construction brief, plaintiff asserted that defendant had waived its indefiniteness arguments because it did not include them in its invalidity contentions:

Given that Defendant failed to raise an indefiniteness argument in its Invalidity Contentions concerning terms 3 and 4, see Ex. 8, Defendant has waived this defense.

D.I. 47 at 30. In the case, the scheduling order required both initial and final invalidity contentions; defendant did not mention indefiniteness in its initial contentions, and the deadline for final contentions had not yet passed.

The defendant …