A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


LPS
The Honorable Leonard P. Stark

Broken
CHUTTERSNAP, Unsplash

We wrote last week about an accused infringer's attempt to secure a TRO to force the patentee to undo their efforts to get the infringer's product de-listed from Amazon.

Judge Stark swiftly ruled on the TRO, ultimately denying it for failure to show a likelihood of success on the merits:

ORAL ORDER: Having considered all the briefing and other relevant materials . . . and having heard short oral argument yesterday, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that [accused infringer] EIS's motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction (D.I. 139) is DENIED. EIS has not shown a likelihood of success on the merits. EIS's noninfringement argument (D.I. 140 at 7−9) turns on construction of the …

Warehouse
Adrian Sulyok, Unsplash

Here's one I haven't seen before. In EIS, Inc. v. Intihealth GER GmbH, C.A. No. 19-1227-LPS (D. Del.), the counterclaim-defendant filed a motion for a TRO to force the patentee defendant to withdraw infringement notices it provided to Amazon.com regarding the counterclaim-defendant's products, and to force them to request that Amazon restore the product's ranking and reviews on the site:

Plaintiff EIS Inc. (“EIS”) respectfully moves the Court to grant a temporary restraining order to enjoin Defendants, requiring them to withdraw their patent infringement notice(s) to Amazon that reference EIS’s “Satisfyer” products, and ordering that the withdrawal shall request that Amazon restore EIS’s product listings with the same rankings and customer reviews …

As we've mentioned, Judge Stark has been nominated to the Federal Circuit. He had his nomination hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. The full video is available on the Judiciary Committee web site: Link to Video.

In the video, Judge Stark's introduction by Delaware Senators Carper and Coons starts at 49:27, and Judge Stark himself appears at 1:04:42. The introductions are about 7 minutes long, and the questions run for about 30 minutes.

Some highlights about Judge Stark, mostly from the introductions:

  • 14 years on the bench
  • 6000 civil and criminal cases
  • 2400 patent cases
  • 93 trials (63 patent trials)
  • 2100 written opinions
  • Only 2% of his opinions reversed or affirmed with criticism

As …

All six challenged patents survived Judge Stark's most recent § 101 Day, held on November 22, 2021. The six patents were spread across three cases. Continuing his usual practice, Judge Stark ruled from the bench after hearing argument in all three cases, and then issued a written order (see below) incorporating the transcript of his bench ruling and the formal orders on the pending motions.

DNA
DNA DNA, ANIRUDH, Unsplash

In the first case, considering Step One of the Alice framework, Judge Stark found that the challenged patent was not directed to the abstract idea posited by the defendant ("an algorithmic method of manipulating and combining genetic sequence data using an [intermediate] data set") and instead "enables the identification of mutations with positional accuracy in a computationally tractable manner," solving a prior art problem - notably, that sequence assembly providing for accurate detection of variants was often computationally intractable for high-throughput analysis.

Judge Stark denied the motion to dismiss based on the Step One analysis.

In the second case, Judge Stark took the somewhat unusual path of deciding Step Two of the Alice test before Step One. He explained:

The Federal Circuit has employed a similar approach and resolved 101 issues at Step Two in several of its cases, ...

"Moon flask with Aesthetic bird motif" The Met

Judge Stark today issued an opinion holding five claims across four patents indefinite, based on two terms: "aesthetic" and "similar to a light house." The Court held that both terms indefinite because they are subjective. As to "aesthetic," the Court rejected an argument that "aesthetic" merely differentiated between artistic and functional aspects of light:

The Court . . . agrees with [accused infringer] HeathCo that "aesthetic" is subjective and, accordingly, the claim term is indefinite. [Patentee] Vaxcel insists "aesthetic" is not subjective because it relates to the "philosophy" or "science" of "beauty and ugliness," not to whether something is pleasing or displeasing. . . . This is unpersuasive, in part …

Oral argument is never guaranteed in D. Del. This means you need to be careful in paring back your briefs—anything that ends up on the cutting room floor might never see the light of day.

Case in point: On Friday, Judge Stark issued an order denying a motion for a preliminary injunction in a competitor case (seeking to require the defendant to withdraw several pending IPR petitions). Both sides requested oral argument, and the plaintiff requested an expedited hearing.

Instead of holding argument, Judge Stark summarily denied the motion on the papers. In a single paragraph, he held that the plaintiff "failed to persuade the Court" on any of the preliminary injunction factors, and noted that a full …

Yesteday, Judge Stark issued an opinion on various discovery disputes and objections in Natera, Inc. v. ArcherDX, Inc., C.A. No. 20-125-LPS (D. Del. Sept. 21, 2021). Here are a few helpful nuggets from the opinion:

He declined to order defendants to respond to 30(b)(6) topics like the following, except for identifying "all persons substantively involved" because that language is "vague and overbroad":

The research, development, design, testing and validation of each of Your Accused Products, including when they were developed and identity of all persons substantively involved in their design and development.

He ordered defendants to produce a corporate witness on the following topic, including an order to describe contemplated and future filings with the …

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Girl holding American Dollar Bills, Alexander Mils, Unsplash

Those with a habit of perusing these posts (thank you, persons of class and distinction) may recall the interesting case of Almirall, LLC v. Torrent Pharmaceuticals Ltd., C.A No. 20-1373-LPS, D.I. 50 (D. Del. July 13, 2021) where Judge Stark granted a 12(c) motion after ruling that the plaintiff had waived various arguments by failing to raise them until oral argument.

I, for one, expected that to be the last we heard of that case for some time. Last Friday, however, Judge Stark granted Almirall's motion to amend the complaint to reassert these same claims, based on new allegations similar to those the Court previously found waived. Judge …

Late last week, Judge Stark granted defendant's request for litigation fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285 in Princeton Digital Image Corp. v. Ubisoft Entertainment SA, C.A. No. 13-335-LPS-CJB, following an award of summary judgment of non-infringement to the defendant and a summary affirmance at the Federal Circuit.

Plaintiff PDIC's patents are directed to virtual reality programs controlled by music or control tracks created from music. Defendant Ubisoft asserted that the accused games manually synchronized the video, soundtrack, and other effects on a timeline, and were not controlled by music or a control track created from music.

During claim construction, Judge Burke found that plaintiff had disclaimed certain subject matter during IPR proceedings...

Narrows
Karan Chawla, Unsplash

Case narrowing is an issue that eventually comes up in most patent cases—the idea that each party should have to reduce the number of claims and prior art references at points during the case.

How Claim Narrowing Usually Goes in a Patent Action

If parties want to avoid a dispute down the line, they can include case narrowing in the scheduling order. More often, however, it comes up at some point after the plaintiffs makes its initial election of asserted claims, and the parties start to get an understanding of the scope of the case.

Typically the initial narrowing occurs before claim construction, and a second round occurs afterwards, sometimes around the time of final contentions. …