A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

The Honorable Maryellen Noreika

It takes a lot to get a legitimate audible laugh out of us at IPDE, but Judge Noreika managed it with one of her orders this week:

On 5/25/2023, the Court issued an Oral Order stating in part that "[t]he Court will not...accept further ex parte emails." Nevertheless, on 5/30/2023, the Court received an ex parte email stating: "We are not attempting to have an ex parte communication entered into the files. By the attached letter, we are attempting to comply with this Court's orders. Will you please provide the Honorable Judge Noreika the attached letter." The Court does not accept ex parte communications. The Court notes, however, that the referenced "attached letter" states that the patents-in-suit are "no longer …

Stick Figure Bonk

We talked early last year about how Judge Noreika praised Chief Judge Connolly SJ ranking procedures, and applied them in a case where the parties had filed 11 SJ motions.

As a reminder, under Chief Judge Connolly's procedures, the parties rank their SJ and Daubert motions. The Court addresses them in order, and if it denies one, it then denies the remainder.

Needless to say, it can lead to some significant strategizing prior to filing, where parties try to balance the importance of each motion with its likelihood of success.

This week, Judge Noreika did it again, and I thought it was a good time to remind everyone that this can happen. In VB Assets, LLC v. Amazon.com, Inc. …

Broken Communication
Reid Naaykens, Unsplash

Parties can freely stipulate to many things in the District of Delaware, and often stipulations to extend deadlines are filed close to the last minute, especially where the parties are working toward agreement but ultimately cannot agree on the final filing in time (or else are having trouble connecting with the other side).

However, stipulations filed close to the Delaware witching hour (5:00PM EST) can be fraught with risk of the Court's denial, as we’ve seen in past heart-stopping examples. We’ve warned before that requests to move Court-scheduled conferences are in the “iffy” category, and combined with last minute filing, can end in disappointment for everyone, as shown in an oral order from Judge Noreika last week in Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. v. Lupin Limited et al., C.A. 21-1042, D.I. 197 (D. Del. Jul. 16, 2021):

On April 17, 2023, the Court instructed the parties to talk to each other about their disputes so that a follow-up call with the Court (set for April 21, 2023) would be more productive than the prior call. On April 21, 2023, a few hours before the set call, the parties submitted a stipulation requesting the April 21 call be delayed. After further inquiries, it became clear that, in the five days after the Court directed the parties to TALK, they did not do so. The Court intended to address that during the April 21 call, but no counsel appeared for the call (notwithstanding that the Court had not granted the request for a delay). THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, should the parties not inform the Court that they have resolved their dispute in full by Tuesday April 25, 2023, lead trial counsel SHALL appear in person in Courtroom 4A on April 26, 2023 at 3:00 p.m. ORDERED by Judge Maryellen Noreika on 4/21/2023.

Judge Noreika previously indicated frustration with the magnitude of this particular discovery dispute (on search methods to find responsive documents), so the parties were on thin ice long before ...

To keep the patent assertion entity from coming back from dead, kill it with counterclaims
To keep the patent assertion entity from coming back from dead, kill it with counterclaims AI-Generated, displayed with permission

One recurring question in patent cases is whether to bring non-infringement and invalidity counterclaims.

For a while (over the last decade), it seemed like parties were backing off on counterclaims a bit, for a couple of reasons:

  • While counterclaims are generally low-cost, they are not free and still involve some work.
  • They increase the risk that the defendant, who is now a counterclaim-plaintiff, will have to bring some subset of its witnesses to Delaware for deposition.
  • They may have little impact on how the case progresses.

These days, however, the pendulum seems to be swinging back to some extent, with parties …

My colleague Andrew wrote a post long ago about all of the things you can stipulate to in D. Del., and all the things you cant. Take a moment to read it—I'll wait.

AI-Generated, displayed with permission

Aaaand we're back. You'll note one of the stipulations listed as "iffy" (legal term) was stipulations to extend page limits. We got a good example of just how iffy those can be last week from Judge Noreika:

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Stipulation is DENIED. The request to extend page limits was filed seven minutes before the over-the-page limit brief was filed. The effect of this was that Plaintiff granted itself an extension without leave of Court and without respect for the Court and its rules. THEREFORE, IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Motion for Preliminary Injunction is DENIED for failure to comply with the page limits. Counsel may re-file the motion with a brief that complies with the Court's rules.

Janssen Biotech, Inc. v. Amgen, Inc., C.A. No. 22-1549-MN (D. Del. Mar. 2, 2023) (Oral Order)

Obviously, it didn't help that the parties filed their stip just minutes before the relevant brief, giving the Court no opportunity to act on it. But it led me to wonder just how often these stipulations are denied in ...

Unhappy Attorneys

Judge Noreika is well known at this point for requiring real, substantive meet-and-confers on claim construction. In multiple cases, she has directed parties to further meet-and-confer after finding their initial efforts insufficient.

She issued another such order this week, this time directing the parties to have what appears to be a supervised meet-and-confer, in person in the courtroom:

ORDER . . . The parties did not comply with the Court's February 13, 2023 Oral Order requiring a good-faith meet and confer. Instead, the parties spoke for just 20 minutes about 10 disputed terms, as well as "hearing logistics" and a proposal by MarkForged to request deferral of certain claim constructions until dispositive motions. There is no breakdown indicating …

Attorneys at Table
AI-Generated, displayed with permission

This is an interesting order from earlier this month that we never had a chance to post about.

In Ecobee, Inc. v. EcoFactor, Inc., C.A. No. 21-323-MN (D. Del.), the parties had a Markman hearing scheduled for December 8. As she often does, in the leadup to the hearing, Judge Noreika issued an order directing lead counsel for the parties to meet-and-confer to reduce the number of disputes:

ORAL ORDER . . . IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that, on or before 12/1/2022, local and lead counsel (i.e., those attorneys that will be leading trial) for the parties shall meet and confer and file an amended joint claim construction chart that sets forth the …

Artist's depiction of the <a href='#' class='abbreviation' data-bs-toggle='tooltip' data-placement='top' title='Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873 (3d Cir. 1995)'>Jumara</a> factors in action
Artist's depiction of the Jumara factors in action Nick Fewings, Unsplash

Yesterday, Judge Noreika transferred a trademark, false advertising, false designation of origin, and unfair competition case to the Northern District of Illinois. See Rockwell Automation, Inc. v. EU Automation, Inc., C.A. No. 21-1162-MN (D. Del. Oct. 27, 2022).

This is interesting because, to my knowledge, Judge Noreika has transferred few if any patent cases out of the District of Delaware—including when both parties are have strong ties to the transferee forum.

I thought it would be interesting to see how the Jumara factors played out in this trademark case compared to …

Zdeněk Macháček, Unsplash

Disqualification motions are tough. In the last 10 years, I count 2 successful motions in Delaware patent cases and 10 losers (although the counting is more complicated than usual as the issue tends to involve an inordinately large number of objections and requests for reargument, and often springs up again as the case evolves).

Still, one can learn things even from a failed attempt. Harbour Antibodies BV v. Teneobio, Inc., C.A. No. 21-1807-MN, for instance, gives us some insight into an issue that I'm surprised doesn't come up more often in this world of multinational megacorps and ultrafirms.

The plaintiff, Harbour, was a plucky little biotech startup that represented by the less little DLA Piper. DLA …

Andrew is better at this A.I. thing, mine still appear monstrous
A.I. Generated, displayed with permission

Every protective order I've ever seen has a provision at the end requiring the parties to return or (more likely) destroy any confidential information (with some limited exceptions) from the other party when the case is over. It's generally not a contentious paragraph.

Judge Fallon, however, dealt with a discovery dispute on this issue, that I was surprised had never come up before -- what happens when there are multiple unrelated defendants, as in ANDA cases? Do you destroy the documents when the relevant defendant drops out of the case, or can you keep them until the whole consolidated mess is over and done with?

Per Judge Fallon, the answer is you get to …