A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

The Honorable Sherry R. Fallon

Source Code
Markus Spiske, Unsplash

Over 10 years ago, the District of Delaware adopted its "Default Standard" for discovery, which sets forth several basic rules for discovery, particularly in patent actions.

One of the rules is the requirement to produce "core technical documents" early in the case:

Within 30 days after receipt of the [list of accused products and asserted patents], each defendant shall produce to the plaintiff the core technical documents related to the accused product(s), including but not limited to operation manuals, product literature, schematics, and specifications.

Pretty quickly after its adoption, the Court held that this includes non-public documents, after parties started trying to skirt the rule by dumping user manuals on the patentee.

These days, …

Rarely does a motion go unopposed. The more common response to all but the most quotidian of requests is an offer to duel.

I've been waiting to use this picture, which I think is meant to be taken seriously
I've been waiting to use this picture, which I think is meant to be taken seriously Chris De Lima, Unsplash

Thus, I usually count even the most grudging and proviso-laden non-opposition as a win. Which, sometimes, works out.

This brings us to the case of TOT Power Control, S.L. v. LG Elecs. Inc., C.A. No. 21-1304-MN-SRF (D. Del. May 16, 2024). The plaintiff there had listed several formal technical employees as having discoverable information on their initial disclosures. As discovery progressed, however, five of these persons who resided overseas in Spain and Denmark stated …

Do It Now
Brett Jordan, Unsplash

Last month we wrote about how delay is a motion killer. Procrastination is a problem most of us litigators share. But if you want your discovery motion granted, it's best to move now not later. Keep up the pressure.

We got another example of that yesterday in Tot Power Control, S.L. v. LG Electronics Inc., C.A. No. 21-1304-MN (D. Del. Apr. 23, 2024) (unsealed May 7, 2024). Tot is an opinion by Judge Fallon on several discovery motions, and two of them were denied due to delay.

First, the Court denied a request to compel plaintiff to produce communications related to valuations it received. Back in June 2023, the plaintiff had agreed …

Colored Plants
Scott Webb, Unsplash

This decision is a bit dense, but it's on an issue that could come up in any case.

The plaintiff in TOT Power Control, S.L. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., C.A. No. 21-1305-MN (D. Del.) accused several products by name, and also stated in its infringement contentions that it would "seek discovery as to the identity of any [of the defendant's] products with substantially similar designs to the expressly listed accused products." D.I. 131.

The case progressed, and it turns out that the defendant does, indeed, have multiple products with similar names. The Court ultimately granted a motion to compel the defendant to provide financial discovery on each of the alternative products, even …

Knights on HDD
AI-Generated, displayed with permission

On Wednesday, Judge Fallon issued a memorandum order in Kurt Morales II v. Sunpath Ltd., C.A. No. 20-1376-JLH-SRF (D. Del.), a class action suit alleging that various defendants are telemarketers who made robocalls violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

More than three years into the litigation, counsel for one of the defendants, Sunpath Ltd., withdrew, and the Court ordered Sunpath Ltd. to retain new counsel. D.I. 232. When it failed to do so, the clerk entered a default against it. Id.

Plaintiff argued that Sunpath defaulted specifically to avoid having to face discovery. D.I. 265 at 1. Plaintiff therefore served a subpoena on Sunpath's e-discovery vendor Everest Discovery, LLC who, unsurprisingly, pushed back. …

As defenses go, there's few better than "I don't infringe." Unfortunately, it's quite difficult to prove at the motion to dismiss stage. It is, after all, the rare complaint that contains the dark seed of its own demise on this front.

mmm . . . dark seeds
mmm . . . dark seeds AI-Generated, displayed with permission

You might think that a motion to dismiss based on non-infringement would be a little bit easier in the ANDA context. After all, you have this giant document listing everything in your product and what it does. You would be wrong.

Such was the lesson of Judge Fallon's opinion in Allergan, Inc. v. Mankind Pharma Ltd., C.A. No. 23-272 (D. Del. Dec. 21, 2023), unsealed last week. The patent there required (amongst dozens of assorted buffers, reagents, uppers, downers, and excipients) a phosphate buffer. The defendant responded by pointing out that none of the 3.2 trillion ingredients listed in their ANDA contained any phosphorus.

(Eds. Note—for the liberal arts majors amongst you, phosphorous is a pretty big part of anything "phosphate")

They thus moved for judgment on the pleadings of no literal infringement, reasoning that the ANDA controlled the infringement inquiry. Judge Fallon denied the motion however, holding that it was possible future evidence might contradict the ANDA:

Mankind Pharma insists that the ANDA specification controls the infringement inquiry. However, the case law cited by Mankind Pharma in support of this proposition explains that the infringement inquiry is based not only on the ANDA filing, but also on "other materials submitted by the accused infringer to the FDA, and other evidence provided by the parties." The Federal Circuit explained "[i]t is ... possible, at least in theory, that other evidence may directly contradict the clear representations of the ANDA and create a dispute of material fact[,]" even if "[s]uch circumstances [are] unlikely to arise in practice[.]" Consistent with this recitation of the applicable standard, each case cited by Mankind Pharma was decided on a fully developed record, either on summary judgment or following a bench trial.

Allergan, Inc. v. Mankind Pharma Ltd., C.A. No. 23-272, at 5-6 (D. Del. Dec. 21, 2023) (internal citations omitted).

This case follows several similar decisions in the district, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. v. Alembic Pharms. Ltd, C.A. No. 22-1395-RGA, 2023 WL 6387975, at *5 (D. Del. Sept. 29, 2023) and InfoRLife SA v. Sun Pharm. Ind. Ltd, C.A. No. 21-1740-WCB, D.I. 153 at 4-5 (D. Del. Nov. 21, 2022), which the opinion discusses at some length. Neither of those cases however were quite as factually stark as the one presented here, where the claims clearly require phosphorus, and the ANDA includes . . . no phosphorus.

We've talked a lot about "plain meaning" constructions, and how our judges have sometimes pushed back against parties who offer plain meaning constructions without any indication of what the actual meaning of the term is.

Magistrate Judge Fallon issued an R&R today on an offshoot of this issue. In PPC Broadband, Inc. v. Charles Industries, LLC, C.A. No. 22-1517-GBW-SRF (D. Del. Jan. 8, 2024), the parties disputed the construction of only a single term, "drop cable." Plaintiff proposed not construing the term at all, and offered a generic definition as an alternative. The defendant proposed a specific construction that added limitations to the claim.

The patent at issue is directed towards a wall-mounted box that …

Any time someone moves to withdraw, the question is: Will the client be able to convince the next set of lawyers that the client will pay?
Any time someone moves to withdraw, the question is: Will the client be able to convince the next set of lawyers that the client will pay? Micaela Parente, Unsplash

Having to move to withdraw because a client won't pay is the absolute worst. You have ethical duties to your client, but you can't work for free. You are stuck in a position where you need to tell the Court enough that it will let you out—but you can't tell it everything without violating the ethics rules. The local rules also place some procedural hoops in the way of a motion to withdraw. It's tricky!

Even worse is when the other side opposes your withdrawal, because then you are potentially …

The Delaware bar lately, arguing over redactions to discovery dispute letters
The Delaware bar lately, arguing over redactions to discovery dispute letters Hasan Almasi, Unsplash

Based on the redaction disputes I've seen in couple of cases lately, some of us here in Delaware have forgotten that the high Avandia standards for access to public materials do not apply to discovery dispute letters and their attachments, as Judge Fallon confirmed last month:

[T]he common law right of access does not extend to discovery motions and supporting materials because the "underlying discovery material itself is not a judicial record." Genentech, Inc. v. Amgen, Inc., C.A. No. 17-1407-CFC et al., 2020 WL 9432700, at *3 (D. Del. Sept. 2, 2020) (citing Leucadia, Inc. v. Applied Extrusion Techs., Inc., …

Drug patents are legion, and they are prone to flock together. In ancient times, a patent would describe A molecule that cured . . . the dancing plague (?) and that would be the end of that. But one bright fellow after another came up with new ways to extend the life of a drag patent, from formulation, to method of treatment, to the new hip thing -- interaction patents.

The gist of these patent claims is pretty basic

  • You've got a drug that you normally give in amount A.
  • You've got atypical patient with whose taking drug B, or has condition C (these pretty much always have something to do with the liver, don't ask me why, I was …