A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware


RGA
The Honorable Richard G. Andrews

Ok, maybe not all people, and not all of the time. But in ranking the kinds of prior art I'd like to be able to assert against a tech patent, off of the top of my head, I'd rank system references pretty low:

  1. A U.S. Patent: Simple and easy.
  2. A foreign patent: Proving authenticity and publication is usually easy (but sometimes not).
  3. A journal publication: You may have to jump through some hoops, but no big deal.
  4. A Wayback Machine reference: Now one of those hoops is waiting (and waiting...) for a declaration through the Internet Archive's procedures. But it's not hard to get.
  5. A book. Now you may be dealing with librarian declarations.
  6. . . . …

Litigant requesting
Litigant requesting "extra pages" Belinda Fewings, Unsplash

This week saw the birth of a novel way to raise a claim narrowing dispute, and it strikes me as rather clever.

Typically the number of claims asserted gets raised as a discovery dispute or as part of the scheduling or status conference.

The plaintiff in TQ Delta, LLC v. Pace Americas, LLC, C.A. No. 13-1835-RGA (D. Del.), though, took a different tack and instead moved for extra pages for summary judgment briefing, explaining that it needed the extra pages because the defendant was asserting 18 invalidity defenses (against plaintiff's 2 asserted claims).

This resulted in the following turn of events:

  • Judge Andrews immediately issued an Oral Order requesting defendant …

Google tells me
Google tells me "hide the ball" is a football thing. Dave Adamson, Unsplash

In Guest Tek Interactive Entertainment, Ltd. v. Nomadix, Inc., C.A. No. 18-1394-RGA (D. Del.), plaintiff sent RFPs for various financial documents, but defendant produced only a single page profit and loss statement for each year, claiming no more was available.

Plaintiff brought a discovery dispute and asked Judge Andrews to order production of any further documents in defendant's possession.

Judge Andrews declined. Instead, he sua sponte suggested that the parties resolve this via a 30(b)(6) deposition about the kinds of financial information that defendant keeps:

[D]o a 30(b)(6) deposition and find out if there are any other documents. And you know, …

Always a bit terrifying:

The [unopposed] motion to redact (see C.A. 19-311-RGA D.I. 96) is DENIED. The redactions are extensive, and the request to redact is unsupported by any statement under oath. I do not think the motion meets the requirements of Avandia Marketing. Ordered by Judge Richard G. Andrews on 10/2/2020.

Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. v. Anchen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 19-311-RGA, D.I. 97 (D. Del. Oct. 2, 2020).

If you want your motion to redact to succeed these days, you really need to keep the redactions narrow, and it's safest to offer ample support.

In M2M Solutions LLC, et al. v. Sierra Wireless Am. Inc., C.A. No. 14-1102-RGA (D. Del.), the parties submitted a joint letter last week asking Judge Andrews to delay their December 2020 PTC and January 2021 jury trial until "spring 2021" due to COVID-19.

Judge Andrews quickly declined, via an oral order issued on the same day:

[T]he Court is not now inclined to continue the trial to spring 2021. Circumstances could change for the better; travel restrictions could be lifted. And the pretrial conference, at least, can be done remotely. The parties may submit a letter after Thanksgiving revisiting the issue in light of then−existing circumstances.

The most famous use of the phrase
The most famous use of the phrase "self-evident"? Engraving by William J. Stone

In ruling on § 101 motions to dismiss, the Court typically adopts plaintiff's constructions outright, if plaintiff offers any. Those constructions may or may not be enough to avoid dismissal, but I can't recall any instance where the District of Delaware actually had to reject a construction as implausible under the FRCP 12(b)(6) standard.

Until now. In Synkloud Tech. v. HP, Inc., C.A. No. 19-1360-RGA (D. Del. Sep. 28, 2020), plaintiff tried to bake the § 101 "non-conventional" standard into the proposed claim construction. Clever! But Judge Andrews described the problems with that approach as "self-evident":

Plaintiff states that a person of ordinary skill …

Clerks frantically tallying prior art references and combinations
Clerks frantically tallying prior art references and combinations Brown Abaca, Crissy Jarvis, Unsplash

This blog could be nothing but disputes about claim narrowing. We'd have 72,000 posts a year and we'd never get to the bottom of all the little sub-disputes, and how each judge prefers to handle them. I'm sure it would be quite popular.

This week in IPA Technologies Inc. v. Amazon.com, Inc., Judge Andrews clarified his position on one of the more common disputes -- how exactly to count "references" for the purposes of narrowing.

The defendant, Amazon, had been ordered to reduce the number of references in its invalidity contentions and had responded by limiting itself to 4 prior art "systems." …