A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


MN
The Honorable Maryellen Noreika

Visualization of the average D. Del. judge's <a href='#' class='abbreviation' data-bs-toggle='tooltip' data-placement='top' title='Summary Judgment'>SJ</a> motion pile (circa 2021, pre-Judge Stark departure)
Visualization of the average D. Del. judge's SJ motion pile (circa 2021, pre-Judge Stark departure) Christa Dodoo, Unsplash

Last month Judge Noreika issued an order praising Chief Judge Connolly's ranking-based summary judgment procedure, and imposing a similar procedure—at least for one case.

Under his SJ procedures, Chief Judge Connolly addresses each party's motions in their ranked order, and if a single motion is denied, he may decline to consider all remaining motions.

Judge Noreika issued her order after the parties in the case, Dali Wireless, Inc. v. Commscope Techs. LLC, C.A. No. 19-952-MN (D. Del.), sought …

As discussed in a previous post, Judge Noreika now requires that Markman briefing occur after the exchange of final infringement and invalidity contentions. But the Judge's oral orders setting forth that requirement did not expressly anchor the Markman process or the contention deadlines to any other dates in the overall schedule.

As we pointed out in our last post, it would make sense to set those deadlines late in the fact discovery period: "Although this order encourages parties to exchange claim construction positions 'early in the case,' it seems likely that parties will propose later Markman deadlines in addition to earlier final contention deadlines, to ensure that sufficient fact discovery has occurred to create meaningful final contentions."

Judge Noreika recently offered additional guidance along these lines regarding the relative timing of contentions, fact discovery, and claim construction...

Stop
Markus Spiske, Unsplash

We've written before about why some parties—especially patentees—like to propose "plain and ordinary meaning" constructions for claim terms, and about the potential hazards of doing so. These include having to submit a new joint chart with proposed constructions or, more significantly, risking cancellation of the Markman hearing and a decision for the other side (as Chief Judge Connolly suggested).

But sometimes parties still decide to risk it. Last week Judge Noreika ordered the parties in two separate cases to articulate specific meanings after they proposed "plain and ordinary meaning" constructions:

ORDER re . . . Joint Claim Construction Chart - IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: (1) The Markman hearing will be narrowed. On or before …

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Robert Anasch, Unsplash

As we've discussed at length, judges in the District of Delaware will usually let parties stipulate to reasonable adjustments to the case schedule, within certain limitations (including that stipulating to change the dispositive motion deadline may in some instances lead to the loss of the parties' trial date).

So it's always interesting to see when a stipulation is denied. In Osteoplastics, LLC v. Conformis, Inc., C.A. No. 20-405-MN-JLH (D. Del.), just before the close of fact discovery, the parties stipulated to a roughly 5 month delay in the remainder of the case. As the parties explain in the stip, the purpose of the delay is to provide the Court time to rule …

The practice of supplementing contentions after the Court issues a claim construction ruling has become commonplace in this District. For the litigants, this timing is generally advantageous because it permits final contentions to be drafted with the Court's claim construction ruling in hand, and does not require the development of alternative positions that take into account each side's claim construction positions.

On the other hand, because the Markman process (in particular the identification of the terms in dispute) often occurs months before final contentions are due, it is not unusual for final detailed contentions to result in additional claim construction disputes, which the Court must resolve long after the initial Markman process.

Judge Noreika recently issued oral orders in several cases specifically to address this timing...

Much has been written recently about the struggle between patentees who want their cases to be heard in Texas, and alleged infringers who want those cases to be heard elsewhere. But what happens when a patentee who has been sued in a declaratory judgment action tries to transfer its case to Texas?

Maybe next time.
Maybe next time. Threes Company, Vivian Arcidiacono, Unsplash

For the two defendants in Roku, Inc. v. AlmondNet, Inc., C.A. No. 21-1035-MN, who asked Judge Noreika to move Roku's DJ case to Texas or dismiss it in favor of a co-pending Texas suit involving the same patents and parties, the answer was straightforward: the case stays in Delaware.

Following unsuccessful licensing discussions, Roku filed suit in Delaware just six hours before the defendants filed their mirror-image case in Texas. The defendants then moved to transfer the Delaware case to the Western District of Texas.

Regarding the transfer motion, Judge Noreika found that the threshold requirement for transfer...

No Trespassing
Bruno Figueiredo, Unsplash

Here's something you don't see every day. Judge Noreika today remanded a case with a DJ claim seeking a “determination that Nokia’s patent rights are exhausted” back to the Delaware Court of Chancery where it was initially filed.

Continental Automotive Systems requested that determination in its breach of contract complaint, which it filed in the Delaware Court of Chancery. Continental claims that Nokia's patents are subject to FRAND obligations, and that it breached a contract by failing to offer licenses to patents on FRAND terms.

Judge Noreika held that because patent exhaustion is a defense, not an affirmative claim, it does not raise a question of federal law, and there is no subject matter jurisdiction ...

Leave to file early summary judgment is not often granted in this District. The circumstances in which the Court may permit early SJ are usually narrow: for example, where a question of law appears to be dispositive of the entire action, and/or where the moving party agrees to forego its ability to file a motion on the same grounds later.

It is safe to assume that openly violating the Court's scheduling order right before you ask to file an early motion for summary judgment of invalidity under Section 101 will not increase your chances of success.

Last week in Johnson Controls Technology Company v. BuildingIQ, Inc., C.A. No. 20-521-MN, Judge Noreika forcefully rejected the defendant's request to file such a motion just days after the defendant had stonewalled during the claim construction process, causing the parties to miss the to file the joint claim construction chart deadline.

After the deadline passed, the Court ordered that...

Judge Noreika just addressed an issue that rarely comes up in D. Del.: whether a patent should be delisted from the Orange Book for non-compliance with the Hatch-Waxman listing requirements. Although the issue itself is uncommon, the decision highlights the difficulty of winning a Rule 12 motion that hinges on early-stage claim construction.

The plaintiff sued "for infringement of five patents, only one of which . . . is listed in the Orange Book." The defendants counterclaimed that the Orange Book patent "must be delisted because it claims a 'system,' not a drug product, or method of using a drug, as required by" the Hatch-Waxman Act. The defendants then moved for judgment on the pleadings on their delisting …

Preliminary injunction motions are—in most cases—filed before substantial discovery has occurred. Nonetheless, a plaintiff seeking a preliminary injunction must support its motion (including both its assertion that it is likely to succeed on the merits an its assertion that it will be irreparably harmed absent an injunction) with evidence.

In Vertigo Media, Inc. v. Earbuds Inc., C.A. No. 21-120-MN, a patent case involving mobile phone apps that permit users "to send music that is simultaneously synchronized with the audience’s individual music streaming platform (Spotify, Apple Music, etc.) and played from audience members’ devices," Judge Noreika recently denied a preliminary injunction motion because plaintiffs had provided "scant" evidence of irreparable harm, and had likewise failed to substantiate their patent infringement arguments.

Mobile music
Samsung Galaxy S7 phone mounted to a car via CD slot., Michael Jin, Unsplash

The Judge first rejected plaintiffs' argument that they had shown irreparable harm as a result of price erosion:

Plaintiffs have offered no concrete evidence of price erosion, let alone evidence that damage caused by any such price erosion could not be quantified. Instead, Plaintiffs allege “complete price erosion” because Defendant markets its products for free. But Plaintiffs do not offer any evidence suggesting that they were planning to offer their product as a paid service or that the price has eroded at all.

Plaintiffs did present evidence that they had unsuccessfully contacted competitors with offers to license rights to their technology, but ...