A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


MN
The Honorable Maryellen Noreika

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 ...

What I imagine claim construction arguments looked like
Immo Wegmann, Unsplash

Last week, Judge Noreika issued an interesting oral order regarding a claim construction dispute that was briefed—haphazardly, apparently—in the parties' summary judgment papers.

She criticized the briefing, ordered the parties to meet-and-confer and file ordinary claim construction briefing, and threatened sanctions if the parties don't try hard enough to reach agreement:

ORAL ORDER − In their summary judgment papers, the parties include arguments that either three or four additional claim terms must be construed by the Court. The parties' arguments are disjointed, do not focus on the intrinsic evidence and do not demonstrate any real understanding of what that other side's construction is. Thus, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, on or before 5:00 PM on …

The purpose of claim construction is to sort out the plain and ordinary meaning of claim terms to a person of ordinary skill in the art. However, where a party advances "plain and ordinary meaning," by itself, as a claim construction position, the other side and the Court may be left wondering what that party believes the meaning to be, and/or whether there is actually dispute about the meaning that requires Court action.

At least one former Judge in this District expressly forbade parties from arguing for "plain and ordinary meaning" alone, as it "effectively leaves claim construction in the hands of the experts rather than the court." But there are, as we have noted, situations where simply arguing for the adoption of the plain language of the claim term can be a viable claim construction position.

Although Judge Noreika does not make any blanket prohibitions in this regard, she has occasionally ordered parties to explain what they mean by "plain and ordinary meaning." For example...

All teed up
All teed up Will Porada, Unsplash

I come to you, loyal reader, with hat in hand. As a reporter on the indefiniteness beat, I pride myself on being on top of all the new developments in Delaware—but it looks like one slipped by me earlier this month—Judge Noreika has issued her first order finding a claim indefinite at Markman.

It should be noted that the claims at issue in Tracktime, LLC v. Amazon.com, C.A. No. 18-1518-MN, D.I. 89 (Mem. Order, July 7, 2021) were means-plus-function claims, which Judge Noreika found indefinite for lack of a corresponding structure in the specification. See id. at 14-15. These issues tend to be easier lifts at the Markman stage for all of …

Yesterday, visiting Judge Bataillon excluded a patentee's expert opinion where the expert tried to use the doctrine of equivalents to skirt the Court's construction of a term.

The Court had initially rejected a preliminary injunction motion by the patentee, holding that it had failed to show a likelihood of success on infringement based on its proposed claim construction.

The patentee then proposed the same construction during claim construction before the magistrate judge, who issued an R&R rejecting it.

The patentee then objected to the R&R, but the Court adopted the construction in the R&R and again rejected the patentee's proposed construction.

Specifically, the Court held that the claims required two elements that each have a different thickness and composition: …

Fire. I couldn't find an image of raining brimstone.
Fire. I couldn't find an image of raining brimstone. Ricardo Gomez Angel, Unsplash

On Monday, Judge Noreika sanctioned a patentee plaintiff for not following the protective order regarding source code.

Here is what the plaintiff did:

Plaintiff violated the Protective Order at least six times over a period of almost one year by: 1) creating an electronic copy of the source code on July 6, 2020; 2) sending that electronic copy to a vendor that had not signed the Acknowledgement and Agreement to Be Bound by Stipulated Protective Order (which actually violated two provisions of the Protective Order); 3) failing to maintain a log of all copies; 4) storing an electronic and apparently unencrypted copy of the source code …

Time
Charles Deluvio, Unsplash

Judge Noreika issued an interesting order last week that allows us to pinpoint precisely how much time she requires to consider Daubert motions.

Naturally, we already had some insight into this issue from the Judge's form scheduling orders. For non-ANDA cases (i.e. cases where the parties may file summary judgment motions), Daubert motions are due at the same time as SJ motions -- at least 4 months before the pretrial conference. See Form Scheduling Order [Patent, Non-ANDA], ¶ 8(f)(iii) (D. Del. Apr. 5, 2021) (Noreika, J.).

The form scheduling order for ANDA cases, on the other hand, gives the parties considerably more leeway, simply requiring that any Daubert motion be brought …

We at IPDE have chronicled the Court's efforts to limit the number of terms it construes pretty extensively. Just last month, we discussed Judge Noreika's opinion in Sentient Sensors, LLC v. Cypress Semiconductor Corp., C.A. No. 19-1868-MN (D. Del. May 17, 2021) where she shot down the plaintiff's motion to reconsider one of her claim construction rulings, citing O2 Micro.

This week, there are some further claim construction developments worth talking about—but we'll start first with some interesting history that we overlooked last time around.

A Difficult Claim Construction Journey

Although we didn't discuss it in our previous post, this case had already had a tempestuous claim construction process. The parties had initially submitted 8 disputed …

You've got . . . 2 new complaints!
You've got . . . 2 new complaints! Brett Jordan, Unsplash

We talked earlier this year about how Judge Hall permitted e-mail service of a complaint to a Taiwanese corporation under FRCP 4(f)(3), and we wondered whether this may be a reliable way to skirt cumbersome foreign service issues going forward.

As of Friday, the answer is still trending towards "yes." The previous case involved Taiwan, which is not a party to the Hague Convention. On Friday, Judge Noreika permitted service via e-mail on the U.S.-based counsel of a Korean entity—a party to the Hague convention—sidestepping the need to engage in cumbersome and time-consuming international service procedures:

Pursuant to Rule 4(f)(3), the Court may order that …

It's fairly common for plaintiffs in Delaware to plead infringement by alleging that the defendant infringes "at least claim x," of the relevant patent—leaving the question of what other claims might be asserted until later in the case.

In line with the Federal Circuit decision in Disc Disease Sols. Inc. v. VGH Sols., Inc., 888 F.3d 1256, 1260 (Fed. Cir. 2018), many of our Delaware judges have explicitly endorsed this practice. See, e.g. Promos Techs., Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co., Civil Action No. 18-307-RGA, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 186276, at *6 (D. Del. Oct. 31, 2018) ("Plaintiff does provide details of at least one claim allegedly infringed under each asserted patent. Therefore, Plaintiff's identification of infringed …