A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


LPS
The Honorable Leonard P. Stark

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.

Just as Delaware gears up to resume jury trials, Judge Stark has released his post-trial opinion for his first fully remote trial of the pandemic in AO Smith Corp. v. Bradford White Corp., C.A. No. 18-412-LPS.

The opinion -- long in the manner of all post-trial opinions -- is worth a read in full. But for my money the main takeaway is how large a roll witness credibility appeared to play in the final outcome, as the difficulty in assessing these things has long been an argument against fully remote trials.

As often happens, the infringement case amounted to a battle of the experts, and there does not appear to be any dispute about who won. Somewhat unusually, the …

Despite a 2020 change in the law designed to make obtaining a preliminary injunction easier for plaintiffs in trademark cases, Judge Stark denied a trademark plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction, finding that the defendant had effectively rebutted the statutorily-imposed presumption of irreparable harm.

Bad news for these guys perhaps.
Bad news for these guys perhaps. green insect, horror by numbers, Unsplash

In Nichino America, Inc. v. Valent U.S.A., LLC, C.A. No. 20-704-LPS, the plaintiff sought preliminary injunctive relief, arguing that the defendant's use of the Senstar mark in connection with an insecticide product was infringing its Centaur mark, also used to market insecticides. After applying the ten-factor Lapp test, Judge Stark concluded that the plaintiff had shown a likelihood of confusion and thus …

A different kind of Sherman
A different kind of Sherman Sherman Tank at Clervaux Castle, Luxembourg, R Boed, CC BY 2.0

This week, Chief Judge Stark ruled on a motion to dismiss a FRAND-related antitrust claim brought by Lenovo against InterDigital relating to 3G/4G phone standards.

According to the Court, InterDigital contracted with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to license its patents at FRAND rates, and its patents were incorporated into the 3G/4G standards. The ETSI requires patentees to license their patents at FRAND rates to avoid anti-trust concerns.

Lenovo's antitrust claims allege that InterDigital, by demanding higher-than-FRAND rates, has obtained an unlawful monopoly power over the 3G/4G standards. Lenovo also alleges that InterDigital defrauded ETSI during the standards development process:

Lenovo allege[s] …

On Friday, Chief Judge Stark released his opinion summarizing his bench rulings from his most recent Section 101 day. This is how the patents fared:

Content Square v. Quantum Metric, Inc., C.A. No. 20-832-LPS (D. Del.)

In the first case, Content Square, the Court invalidated the claims of 2 of the 5 asserted patents.

Not this kind of web crawling.
Not this kind of web crawling. Michael Anfang, Unsplash

The invalidated patents related to "heat map patents," which relate to displaying heat maps of web browsing data. These include U.S. Patent Nos. 10,063,645 and 10,079,737.

The third patent, which was not invalidated, related to "creating multiple versions of a website to determine users' preferences." Interestingly, the Court held …

Wilmington, <a href='#' class='abbreviation' data-toggle='tooltip' data-placement='top' title='Delaware'>DE</a>
Wilmington, DE Andrew Russell, CC BY 2.0

As we noted recently, Chief Judge Stark has a practice of holding "§ 101 days," in which he hears oral argument on a number of § 101 motions all at once, each from a different case. He typically issues decisions from the bench regarding each motion—which is always exciting—and follows up later with a written decision.

At first it seemed that § 101 days tended to be fatal for the patents involved, but more recent hearings have shown otherwise.

On Friday, Chief Judge Stark posted the schedule and public access information for his next § 101 day, set …

Typical Delaware Corporate Headquarters
Typical Delaware Corporate Headquarters Annie Spratt, Unsplash

Moving to transfer a case out of Delaware is tough. This is doubly true when Delaware is the Plaintiff's "Home Turf," in which case its choice of forum is entitled to "paramount consideration." See Intellectual Ventures I LLC v. Altera Corp, 842 F. Supp. 2d 744, 754 (D. Del. 2015).

We've previously covered the split in district on the question of whether Delaware is necessarily the home turf of every entity incorporated here, or if a plaintiff needs more than a P.O. box and a certificate on file with the Secretary of State for its choice of venue to warrant "paramount consideration."

As he noted in FG SRC LLC v. Xilinx, Inc., C.A. No. 20-601-LPS, D.I. 34 (D. Del. Feb. 10, 2021), Judge Stark "believe[s] that an entity's state of incorporation is part of its home turf" regardless of any other connections it may or may not have with the district. See id. at 6-7.

The interesting bit about the FG decision is the Judge Stark's analysis was unaffected by the fact that the Plaintiff had admittedly chosen to assert the same patents against another Delaware entity in a different district (W.D. Tex.) just one week prior. See id. n.3. Although defendant pointed out that this pretty strongly suggested that the plaintiffs interest in litigating this particular suit in Delaware was more a product of strategy than a commitment to litigating in its beloved state of incorporation, Judge Stark was unmoved and proceeded to deny the motion to transfer.

Books
Alfons Morales, Unsplash

In May 2020, West Publishing and Thomson Reuters filed a copyright action against ROSS Intelligence LLC, alleging that ROSS (through a third party) scraped content from WestLaw to start its own Artificial-Intelligence-based legal research platform. (ROSS has since ceased operations but persists solely to litigate this case.)

Down the line, I imagine the case may raise some interesting questions about AI and copyright. For example, what are the copyright implications of ROSS's use of Westlaw's copyrighted compilation of otherwise public domain materials to train an AI? Isn't that fair use (talk about transformative!)? If not, what are the damages? And so on.

For now, ROSS has moved to dismiss on the ground that West failed to …

Paper
ron dyar, Unsplash

It's hard to get a significant increase to the normal briefing limits in D. Del., even if both sides agree. Sometimes a judge will grant a small increase (if there's a good reason), but for the most part, they're reluctant to grant requests that will have a large impact on their workload.

Case in point: In a multi-defendant ANDA case that went to trial last month, the parties submitted a post-trial briefing schedule asking Chief Judge Stark to allow "in excess of 500 pages of briefing and an additional almost 500 pages of proposed findings of fact[.]"

Judge Stark quickly rejected the proposal and ordered shorter limits. And although he allowed "[a]ny party that strenuously objects …