A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


LPS
The Honorable Leonard P. Stark

Yesterday, Chief Judge Stark addressed whether "judicial estoppel" prevents a defendant from taking one position in an uninstituted IPR petition and asserting a contradictory position during claim construction in the district court:

[Plaintiff] Sequoia contends that [defendant] Red Hat is judicially estopped from arguing for a narrower construction than it proposed during the IPR . . . . Judicial estoppel is only appropriate when: (1) the party to be estopped is asserting a position that is irreconcilably inconsistent with one she previously asserted; (2) the party changed her position in bad faith, i.e., with an intent to play fast and loose with the court, and (3) the use of judicial estoppel is tailored to address the affront to the …

In a recent order, Judge Stark ruled that evidence of willfulness would come in during the liability phase of a jury trial in which liability and damages are being tried separately. The ruling was one of several issued in the lead up to the June jury trial in Sunoco Partners Marketing & Terminals L.P. v. Powder Springs Logistics, LLC, C.A. No. 17-1390-LPS.

In his ruling, Judge Stark noted that "[t]he Court's interest in conservation of resources disfavors Defendants' request,"...

david-clode-PMyak6AHT1Y-unsplash.jpg
David Clode, Unsplash

In Reputation.com, Inc. v. Birdeye, Inc., C.A. No. 21-129-LPS (D. Del.), the plaintiff moved for a preliminary injunction.

Judge Stark referred the PI motion to Judge Burke, who held an initial status conference and set a truncated schedule for PI discovery. The scheduling order set deadlines for PI discovery and supplemental briefing to be completed within 4 months.

Shortly after the PI motion, defendant moved to dismiss on § 101 grounds; in response, the plaintiff amended the complaint.

After the amendment, the Court issued an oral order sua sponte denying the motion to dismiss as moot—a common practice among some D. Del. judges (these orders helpfully make explicit that the pending motion …

By and large, the view from the bench is that expert testimony provides little value in the claim construction process. It's litigation-driven extrinsic evidence, and it often plays no role in the court's final analysis. But if you choose to rely on an expert during claim construction, will you have to make them available for deposition?

Judge Stark answered this question on Friday with a resounding yes. After reiterating the general view that "[e]xpert opinions and declarations constitute extrinsic evidence . . . and are at times unhelpful," he confirmed that:

a party asking the Court to rely on such extrinsic evidence should expect to make its expert(s) available for deposition prior to a claim construction hearing, should …

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 …