A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

The Honorable Sherry R. Fallon

Andrew Russell

When a party asks to do something outside of the time limits set by the scheduling order, the Court looks to whether there is "good cause" under FRCP 16(b)(4) to modify the scheduling order. Good cause requires diligence, generally meaning that the movant could not have reasonably met the deadline it's trying to move.

Last week we got two examples of diligence analyses from the Court, one that found that a party was diligent, and one that didn't. I thought it would be interesting to line them up and compare them.

"Immediately" = Good Cause

First, Judge Fallon found good cause where a plaintiff sought to depose a third-party witness after the close of fact discovery, after the …

It begins with a series of interminably long emails. I say that you really should be producing these documents—I cite cases, exhaustively describe the items sought, and cite check the whole thing like it's headed to the Supreme Court. You respond by pointing out that I am just hopelessly misguided, and have perhaps been drinking. You also cite cases.

Eventually everyone gets on the phone to hash things out. Two hours later you agree to take my positions "under advisement" and call it a day.

Meet and confer accomplished.

Why is this one so creepy?  It's just supposed to be werewolves shaking hands
Why is this one so creepy? It's just supposed to be werewolves shaking hands AI-Generated, displayed with permission

It's not always that bad, but there is definite potential for one or both parties to drag the process out. It's rare to see any consequences to this sort of slow-rolling, as it's usually invisible to the Court.

Every now and then, though, someone gets called out for it, and yesterday was one of those days. The dispute in TwinStrand Biosciences, Inc. v. Guardant Health, Inc., C.A. No. 21-1126-GBW-SRF (D. Del. Apr. 24, 2023) (Oral Order) was your usual request that a party supplement an interrogatory. Judge Fallon granted the motion, but took the unusual step of noting the somewhat tortured history of the parties' correspondence

Guardant's second supplemental response to Interrogatory No. 6 provides some of this information for only one of the Asserted Patents. Guardant represented that it would produce and identify documents responsive to the Interrogatory under Fed. R. Civ. P. 33(d) as discovery continued. Guardant's responses to Plaintiffs' requests for supplementation of Interrogatory No. 6 during the meet and confer process suggest that Guardant may have additional responsive information that has not yet been disclosed. (As of March 17, 2023, Guardant represented it "will provide our position or a supplementation in due course"); (As of April 4, 2023, Guardant was "considering [Plaintiffs'] proposal and hope[s] to have a response soon."). Otherwise, Guardant could have put the matter to rest and avoided burdening the Court by simply confirming that it had no additional information responsive to Interrogatory No. 6.

The phrasing here is not quite a rebuke, but parties generally like to keep their name as far removed from ...

Cédric Dhaenens, Unsplash

Judge Fallon made an opinion public today that deals with whether a plaintiff can get discovery on unlaunched, abandoned, and future products in the lead up to a preliminary injunction hearing. The Court held that discovery on those products was not proportional to the needs of the case:

Zwift has shown that the document discovery requested by Wahoo is not proportional to the needs of the case at this stage of the proceedings. (D.I. 72) The complaint establishes that Wahoo was aware of Zwift’s unlaunched and abandoned hardware products, yet it did not raise these products in its motion for a preliminary injunction, indicating that the relevance of the requested discovery to the preliminary injunction inquiry …

A lot of things can go wrong in law. Keeping track of the labyrinthine tangle of laws, local rules, standing orders, and judicial preferences, is a daunting task. Checking and re-checking documents to make sure they comply with all of these rules is enough to make a person a bit neurotic. But, with the aid of experience and some hard lessons, you eventually come to grips with things and develop a certain comfort with the systems hard edges.

Until of course you stumble upon something new to worry about, and then you get the shakes all over again.

This cartoon is much darker than I intended, but I'm out of credits for the month
AI-Generated, displayed with permission

To that end, I submit to you this footnote in Cipla USA, Inc. v. Ipsen Biopharms., Inc., C.A. No. 22-552-GBW-SRF (D. Del. Mar. 1, 2023) (R&R), on the dangers of not checking your links:

In support of this assertion, Ipsen cites an "Update to Information Regarding Medicare Payment and Coding for Drugs and Biologics," dated May 18,2007. (D.I. 23 at 4 n.4) A document by the same name and having the same date is referenced in Cipla's complaint. (D.I. 1 at [Paragraph] 5c) To the extent that these documents are, in fact, the same, the court may consider them as "matters incorporated by reference" into the complaint without converting the motion to dismiss to one for summary judgment. See Kickjlip, Inc. v. Facebook, Inc., 999 F. Supp. 2d 677, 682 (D. Del. 2013). In this case, however, there are different hyperlinks associated with the document in the complaint and in Ipsen's reply brief. (Compare D.I. 1 at, 5c with D.I. 23 at 4 n.4) The hyperlink in the complaint functions, whereas the hyperlink in the reply brief does not. Ipsen does not set forth any basis for the court's consideration of the material, and the court cannot independently verify whether this material is the same as the document referenced in the complaint due to the defective hyperlink.

Id. at 7 n.4.

Oof. To Summarize here -- the defendant moved to dismiss and cited a document that was linked in, but not attached to, the complaint. The Court declined to consider it, because the link in the brief was ...

Split Cup
Tania Melnyczuk, Unsplash

Judge Fallon issued an order yesterday recognizing the split in the district court on how the judges handle IPR estoppel—specifically the question of whether IPR estoppel may apply to prior art products that are cumulative of patents or publications that could have been raised in the IPR:

ORAL ORDER . . . IT IS ORDERED that Plaintiff's motion to strike Defendant's amended invalidity contentions based on IPR estoppel is DENIED without prejudice. The parties dispute whether IPR estoppel should apply to Defendant's invalidity theories based on prior art systems, products, and/or knowledge. Under 35 U.S.C. § 315(e)(2), Defendant is barred from asserting an invalidity defense based on "any ground that [Defendant] raised or reasonably could …

Judge Fallon issued an interesting ruling on a discovery dispute this week that I expect to see cited by many an attorney in high dudgeon over the coming months and years.

Lorenzo Herrera, Unsplash

The issue was straightforward: Plaintiff had served a 30(b)(6) notice requesting a witness on "[t]he structure, function, and operation of the Accused Instrumentalities and the interoperation, integration, and/or interface between and among the Accused Instrumentalities.” The defendant refused, contending the topic was overbroad and unduly burdensome. Plaintiff then moved to compel.

Judge Fallon denied the motion without a hearing, holding:

Topic 1, which seeks testimony on "[t]he structure, function, and operation of the Accused Instrumentalities and the interoperation, integration, and/or interface between and among the …

"I'm a motion to strike, not a stealth motion for summary judgment" Braydon Anderson, Unsplash

One of the more common District of Delaware questions you get as local counsel is "can we move to strike opposing counsel's (infringement or invalidity) contentions?"

That may seem like a simple question, but the answer depends many things, like: What is wrong with those contentions? How were our contentions in comparison? Which judge is this in front of? How long ago did they serve them? (And, sometimes, things like: Why are you asking this now, when we are two weeks from trial?)

Challenging contention disclosures can be tough even if you have what seem like fairly good arguments. The Court is generally not …

Something is missing here.
Something is missing here. Pawel Czerwinski, Unsplash

A recent privilege decision from Judge Fallon became public this week, after the redactions period expired, and it has some interesting conclusions about communications between patent prosecution and patent litigation counsel.

In Huber Engineered Woods LLC v. Louisiana-Pacific Corp., C.A. No. 19-342-GBW-SRF (D. Del.), the defendant accused infringer brought an inequitable conduct counterclaim, alleging that plaintiff knowingly submitted five false "Substitute Statements in Lieue of Oath or Declaration" to the PTO.

As the Court explains, the defendant apparently relied on testimony from the person who signed the statements, and from the inventors, to allege that they were false:

These Substitute Statements, which were signed by [plaintiff] HEW employee Dave …

Defendants lining up to file their motions to stay
Defendants lining up to file their motions to stay Rob Curran, Unsplash

When the Court instituted its vacant judgeship procedures following Judge Stark's elevation to the Federal Circuit, the implementing order included procedures to keep cases moving if the parties do not consent to a magistrate judge to hear the case.

For example, the order directs parties to hold a Rule 26(f) conference within seven days of notifying the Court that the parties would not consent to a magistrate judge:

The parties shall cooperate in good faith to move the case forward. To that end, within seven days of filing the notice that the parties would not consent to a Magistrate Judge, the parties shall hold a Rule 26(f) …

Do It Now
Brett Jordan, Unsplash

This happened earlier this month, but I wanted to post about it since this is a recurring issue.

In Rex Computing, Inc. v. Cerebras Systems Inc., C.A. No. 21-525-MN (D. Del. July 8, 2022), defendant filed a discovery dispute to compel plaintiff to supplement its infringement contentions to explain how the cited source code meets those limitations.

Plaintiff responded, in part, by noting that these are "initial contentions while discovery is ongoing." D.I. 94 at 1.

Nonetheless, the Court ordered plaintiff to supplement its contentions to explain how the code meets the limitations:

ORAL ORDER . . . Plaintiff shall supplement its infringement contentions on or before July 18, 2022. Citations …