A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


JLH
The Honorable Jennifer L. Hall

Bare Bones
Mathew Schwartz, Unsplash

Sufficiency of each parties' contentions is one of the most common issues in patent cases in Delaware. Both sides tend to want to know exactly what the other side plans to argue—ideally before claim construction. That way the parties can construe the terms that actually matter, and have straightforward dispute about whether the accused product and the prior art meets the claim elements.

Beyond that, both parties typically want the other side to be held to what they disclosed in their contentions. The rules generally prohibit a party from disclosing one thing and then arguing something else later, for no reason (although Third Circuit law can be remarkably soft on this point).

Having a reasonable idea …

Plaintiff Trident Holdings, LLC at oral argument, pointing to a claim construction
Kedar Gadge, Unsplash

Having a legitimate claim construction dispute that would lead to subject matter eligibility is a great way to survive a § 101 motion. Ideally, obviously, that argument should be set forth in an answering brief. But an opinion yesterday describes how a patentee was able to avoid a negative result on its § 101 motion through claim construction arguments offered at oral argument:

[Plaintiff] Trident suggested for the first time at oral argument that the “optimization engine” and “adaptive scoring” limitations required construction before the Court decides eligibility. . . . That claim construction wasn’t expressly raised until the oral argument suggests that [Trident] may not have actually thought there was a claim construction issue …

Last week, Judge Hall denied a motion to dismiss claims of infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(g), finding that the plaintiff had "barely met the low threshold for alleging infringement of the asserted patents." The plaintiff's amended complaint alleged that the defendants imported and sold phone displays that were "remanufactured" overseas using patented methods of removing damaged glass covers from mobile phone displays so that replacement glass can be attached.

Broken Screen
Broken Screen Samsung Galaxy S6 with shattered screen, Ashkan Forouzani, Unsplash

Judge Hall's R&R, issued in Viking Techs., LLC v. Squaretrade Inc., C.A. No. 20-1509-CFC-JLH, addressed four arguments made by the defendant, namely that the amended complaint: (1) did not adequately allege that the remanufacturing process performed all of the claimed steps; (2) failed to attribute specific misconduct to either defendant; (3) did not allege pre-suit notice; and (4) failed to allege infringement under 271(g) because the accused devices are not "made" by the accused process and are "materially changed" by subsequent processes.

On the first argument, the sufficiency of the allegations that the remanufacturing process met all claimed steps, Judge Hall found that "Viking has barely met the low threshold" for pleading infringement. Although the allegations of infringement in the complaint largely tracked the claim language, and did not include allegations of infringement for every claim mentioned in the complaint, Judge Hall found that the allegations were "sufficient to provide Defendants notice of the grounds on which Plaintiff’s claims rest," including "what portion of their business—mobile device repair—and what specific products—those that have had the display assemblies repaired/remanufactured—are accused of infringement." Citing the Federal Circuit's Nalco decision, she explained that there is simply "no requirement that a plaintiff plead facts establishing that each limitation of an asserted claim is met." ...

Divide
Crack on white concrete surface, Brina Blum, Unsplash

We've been following the district court cases holding that a complaint itself cannot establish knowledge of patent infringement sufficient to support a claim of indirect infringement or willfulness.

On Friday, Judge Hall jumped in, noting that judges in this district have taken views on this issue:

As many have acknowledged, courts—including courts within this district—disagree as to whether a pleading alleging post-suit inducement must allege that the defendant had the requisite knowledge prior to the filing of that particular pleading (or the lawsuit itself). I am also aware that there are courts—including in this district—that appear to hold that in the absence of pre-suit knowledge, a post-suit indirect infringement claim …

alexander-mils-lCPhGxs7pww-unsplash.jpg
Girl holding American Dollar Bills, Alexander Mils, Unsplash

An interesting fees issue was decided earlier this week in a Report and Recommendation by Judge Hall—can a prevailing defendant recover attorney's fees under § 285 for work done on a successful IPR petition?

The answer, apparently, is no.

Given the prevalence of IPR petitions, I was somewhat surprised to see that there was no authority on the issue from either the Federal Circuit or Delaware. Judge Hall found the text of § 285 decisive:

The text of 35 U.S.C. § 285 says nothing about giving the district court the ability to award fees incurred by a prevailing party in a separate administrative proceeding. The statute simply states that “[t]he …

Pills
Christina Victoria Craft, Unsplash

Magistrate Judge Hall issued an R&R today recommending that the Court deny a motion to dismiss an inducement claim against a health insurer relating to a method-of-use claim for a generic drug.

The complaint alleges that, despite knowing that the plaintiff had a method-of-use claim for a specific treatment, the insurer nonetheless covered the patented treatment at a lower cost to patients than treatment with the name-brand drug:

The thrust of the allegations against [the insurer] Health Net are (1) that it provides coverage and payment for [co-defendant] Hikma’s generic product even in cases where Health Net actually knows that a particular beneficiary is using the generic version for an unapproved—and allegedly infringing . . …

Ridesharing
Brecht Denil, Unsplash

Magistrate Judge Hall issued a § 101 R&R today in Rideshare Displays, Inc. v. Lyft, Inc., C.A. No. 20-1629-RGA-JLH (D. Del.), recommending denial of defendant Lyft's motion to dismiss based on § 101.

The Court found that the patent was not directed to an abstract idea—though it noted that it was a close call—and that, regardless, the invention contained an inventive concept under Step 2 of Alice.

We've all read about dozens (or more) of § 101 opinions over the last few years, but here are a few points of interest from Judge Hall's opinion:

  • Judge Hall closely examined the representativeness of the alleged representative claim, and rejected it as unrepresentative. Choose …

Pills
HalGatewood.com, Unsplash

Judge Hall today issued an R&R on attorneys fees in In Re Kerydin (Tavaborole) Topical Solution 5% Patent Litigation, MDL No. 19-md-2884-RGA (D. Del. June 23, 2021), an ANDA case.

There, the plaintiff filed suit on four patents even though the PTAB had previously found an earlier patent in the family invalid in an IPR, and even though IPRs were pending on each of the four patents-in-suit.

Filing suit triggered the 30-month stay of FDA approval. Shortly after the suit was filed, one of the defendants moved to stay; plaintiff did not oppose, and actually filed a cross-motion to stay its own action against the other defendants (who opposed).

The Court granted the …

Plants
Matthew Brodeur, Unsplash

In a trade secret dispute over THC remediation processes, Judge Hall recently denied a hemp processing company's motion for a preliminary injunction. The redacted version of her opinion came out yesterday, and it gives some helpful guidance for parties litigating trade secret disputes. It also touches on an important tip for legal writers everywhere.

As usual, one of the key questions was whether the plaintiff adequately identified the trade secrets at issue. This requires a careful balancing act—the trade secret needs to be broad enough to cover what the defendant is doing, but narrow enough to qualify for trade secret protection in the first place.

In trying to walk this line, lawyers are often tempted to …

In Delaware, Local Rule 7.1.2(b) sets deadlines for responding to motions, and states that

Except for the citation of subsequent authorities, no additional papers [other than the opening, answering, and reply briefs] shall be filed absent Court approval.

Based on this rule, parties file "notices of subsequent authorities" to present after-arising citations (and sometimes other content) to the Court.

But some attorneys disagree about just how much argument can accompany the "citation[s]" a notice of subsequent authority. The authority is mixed.

In some cases, the Court has declined to consider notices containing argument that are filed without leave. See, e.g., Forest Labs., Inc. v. Amneal Pharm. LLC, C.A. No. 14-508-LPS, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23215, at *51 …