A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


JLH
The Honorable Jennifer L. Hall

Artists rendition of the author patiently awaiting the return of jury trials
Artists rendition of the author patiently awaiting the return of jury trials We Don’t Deserve Dogs, Marten Bjork, Unsplash

This week brought to light yet another unexpected side effect of COVID-19 -- it's now harder to win a motion to bifurcate.

This interesting tidbit came to light in Judge Hall's opinion in Evertz Microsystems Ltd. v. Lawo Inc., C.A. No. 19-302, D.I. 259 (D. Del. Feb. 23, 2021). The defendant there moved to bifurcate the infringement and damages cases into separate trials near the close of fact discovery. In denying the motion, Judge Hall noted that the prejudice to the plaintiff, and strain on the Court, of holding two separate trials was greater than it would normally be because it was unlikely the second trial could be scheduled for years:

As the parties both know, this Court currently has an extremely congested docket. It would be difficult to schedule an additional trial in this action; thus, Evertz would likely have to wait additional years to have full resolution of its claims.

Id. at 3.

Its also worth noting that Judge Hall called out the "fairly litigious" nature of the case, with the parties "raising numerous discovery disputes before the Court" leading to concerns that "bifurcating and staying the issue of damages will result in (1) duplicate discovery requests and disputes as those already resolved and (2) new disputes over what is appropriately part of the liability phase versus the damages phase" that would further tax the Court." ...

Service of process on a foreign defendant can be tricky. If the foreign defendant will not agree to waive service under Rule 4(d), a plaintiff is left with methods of service under Rule 4 that are often complex and time-consuming, and come with no guarantee that the service will ultimately be effective.

And while Rule 4 does not set a deadline for service of process on foreign defendants, as it does for domestic defendants, the time to serve is not unbounded. Helpfully, Rule 4 provides a fallback that opens up the door to other--perhaps less onerous--methods of service, including simply sending an email (in the right circumstances).

When Can You Serve by E-mail?

She just served a defendant in Taiwan
She just served a defendant in Taiwan Brooke Cagle, Unsplash

Last week Magistrate Judge Hall permitted service on a foreign defendant by email pursuant to FRCP 4(f)(3), which provides that, in addition to various other methods of service, service of process may be achieved "by other means not prohibited by international agreement, as the court orders."

As Judge Hall recounted, plaintiff DivX LLC first attempted service by certified mail on Taiwanese defendant Realtek Semiconductor Corp., but Realtek apparently refused to accept the mail delivery. ...

Shield of Sir John Smythe (1534–1607)
Shield of Sir John Smythe (1534–1607), The Met

This week judges in the District of Delaware issued two orders regarding discovery disputes seeking relief from protective orders in patent actions. One granted relief, and one denied it. The contrast between the two is a great illustration of how you should and shouldn't argue for relief from a protective order.

How Not to Do It

In the first action, plaintiff Wildcat sought permission to disclose defendant's materials from the district court in a co-pending IPR to support its secondary considerations of non-obviousness. The protective order specifically allowed this:

All Protected Material shall be used solely for the above-captioned cases or any related appellate proceeding and/or proceedings before the United States …

hiroshi-kimura-rtX4wxMEI2M-unsplash.jpg
Hiroshi Kimura, Unsplash

Since the early 2000's, the District of Delaware local rules have prohibited talking to a witness about the subject matter of their deposition testimony during a deposition:

RULE 30.6. Depositions Upon Oral Examination.
From the commencement until the conclusion of deposition questioning by an opposing party, including any recesses or continuances, counsel for the deponent shall not consult or confer with the deponent regarding the substance of the testimony already given or anticipated to be given, except for the purpose of conferring on whether to assert a privilege against testifying or on how to comply with a court order.

It's not uncommon for visiting counsel defending depositions in Delaware cases to not know this rule. …