A Blog About Intellectual Property Litigation and the District of Delaware

The Honorable William C. Bryson

Speaking of clever procedural manuevers, here's the
Speaking of clever procedural manuevers, here's the "fish tank" my loving wife got me when I asked for one Andrew E. Russell, displayed with permission

Judge Bryson issued an opinion today in Michael R. Cahill, Trustee of the Hunt Irrevocable Trust v. Air Medical Group Holdings, Inc., C.A. No. 21-679-WCB (D. Del. Oct. 16, 2023). In it, he describes a clever procedural maneuver that failed, but resulted in a positive outcome anyway.

The case involves an breach of contract claim affirmative claim and counter-claim. The Court granted summary judgment for the plaintiff on their affirmative claim, holding that it was time-barred under a provision of the contract that set out a time for bringing claims.

The defendant …

Full Scope
Patrick Hendry, Unsplash

Judge Bryson recently unsealed his opinion in Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Tolmar, Inc., C.A. No. 21-1784-WCB (D. Del. Sept. 8, 2023), in which he grants summary judgment of no anticipation by a reference under (Pre-AIA) § 102(a).

As a reminder, pre-AIA § 102(a) covers prior art that was available "before the invention" of the patent.

Here, the plaintiff argued that it had reduced the invention to practice before the date of the prior art. The defendant responded that, sure, they reduced an embodiment to practice before the prior art, but they didn't conceive of the invention's full scope:

Tolmar does not appear to dispute that the June 2007 clinical trials practiced …

Lawyers, especially patent lawyers, are artists in the medium of obfuscation. Much of the job is finding the fuzzy areas at the edges of seemingly straightforward language and tugging at them to suit your needs. At best, it leads to moments of mad brilliance that Van Gogh might envy.

So it was in the case (fast becoming one of my favorites in the district) of a Markman dispute in Impossible Foods Inc. v. Motif Foodworks, Inc., C.A. No. 22-311-WCB (D. Del. Aug. 15, 2023).

Person, cow, not cow, camera, tv
Person, cow, not cow, camera, tv AI-Generated, displayed with permission

The term in question was "non-animal."

As you probably gathered from the caption, the patent covered various fake meats (Facon, Soysauge, Ham-pty promises) with "non-animal" ingredients.

Being naturally averse to spoilers, I read the opinion until I got to the disputed term, and then stopped to ask myself "what could the dispute possibly be?" before peaking into the parties' arguments. I sat there a full 10 minutes before shaking my head and giving up.

As it happens, it was more reasonable than it looks at first blush. Impossible argued for the definition I'd immediately jumped to—not from an animal (or in the parlance of lawyers "derived from a non-animal source"). Motif's position, however was that the particular ingredients had to be chemicals (here, proteins) that were "not naturally present in animals" as opposed to merely not harvested from animals in this instance.

Judge Bryson ultimately sided with Impossible for boring science and law reasons. But game recognizes game, so I felt obliged to call out this impressive little dispute. I hope you readers are as inspired as I was.

You don't get to pick your jobs in the P.I. biz. A good gumshoe takes what walks in the door, and the only questions he asks are "how much?" and "permanently?" The only answer he'll take is a raised eyebrow and and that money gesture when you rub your thumb against two fingers.

Hamburglar was of the old school. 40 years ago he had a reputation that could make a clown go back into his little car with all his friends and drive off without so much as a honk. When the doc said his arteries were starting to look looked like string cheese, he put that all behind him - hung up his shingle and started trying to solve …

We try to keep it light here at IP/DE, but sometimes I actually learn something and I feel sort of obliged to pass it on. You know, some real dark arts stuff that I wouldn't have known if I didn't have to read absolutely everything written in the district for this blog.

Why does he have six fingers? Why on only one hand?
AI-Generated, displayed with permission

Today's bit of lore today is about damages, and a split amongst district courts that visiting Judge Bryson has taken a stand on. Can a corporate parent can claim lost profits that would have initially accrued to its subsidiary?

The trite answer to this is "no." The Federal Circuit has squarely held that "a patentee may not claim, as its own damages, the lost profits of a related company." Warsaw Orthopedic, Inc. v. NuVasive, Inc., 778 F.3d 1365, 1375 (Fed. Cir. 2015). However, as Judge Bryson pointed out in his opinion in Kaneka Corp v. Designs For Health, Inc., C.A. No. 21-209 (D. Del. Mar. 3, 2023) (Mem. Op. & Order), several courts have held that lost profits of a subsidiary can still be claimed if they flow "inexorably" from the subsidiary to the parent.

Judge Bryson agreed, stating

To be sure, the Federal Circuit has not expressly recognized that lost profits can be awarded when those profits flow inexorably from a subsidiary to the patentee . . . I find the weight of district court authority on that point to be ...

Dollar Bills
Sharon McCutcheon, Unsplash

Judge Bryson resolved a large pile of motions in limine this month in IOEngine, LLC v. Paypal Holdings, Inc., C.A. No. 18-452-WCB (D. Del. June 15, 2022). What's a large pile, you say? About nineteen motions in limine total if I'm counting correctly.

The opinion hits a number of the old stand-by MILs, including that the accused infringer cannot call the patentee names like "patent troll" (we've discussed that before), that PTAB and IPR proceedings do not come in and the parties cannot talk about inequitable conduct (common results), and that general evidence about the parties' size/net worth is precluded (also not uncommon).

There were a number of interesting motions, though, …

"Our RFAs will blot out the sun!" Possessed Photography, Unsplash

I have a feeling that, when the question of "how many RFAs can we serve if there is no limit" comes up going forward, we are all going to remember this case.

In FG SRC LLC v. Xilinx, Inc., C.A. No. 20-601-WCB (D. Del.), plaintiff apparently served 23,688 RFAs on the defendant, each one requesting an admission that a document produced by the defendant was authentic.

You may be thinking "Was this all in one set of RFAs?? Did they type this all out?!?" and it appears that the answer is "yes." According to the Court, the plaintiff served a "3,604-page document entitled 'First Requests for Admission of Authenticity.'" That's 9.1 RFAs per page.

I have to imagine they used a computer script or something similar to draft these. I hope they didn't condemn a poor associate or paralegal to their office for a week to type these out.

In any case, the defendant—shockingly!—objected that having to respond to 23,668 individual RFAs was "abusive, unreasonable, and oppressive." Judge Bryson ...

Fire Department
Mor Shani, Unsplash

In IOEngine v. Paypal Holdings, Inc., C.A. No. 18-452-WCB (D. Del.), the inventor kept a box of 33 prototypes for his invention in his basement "laboratory."

One of the prototypes—the "MediKey device"—had been the subject of intense dispute in a previous case on his patent. It had been analyzed by experts for both sides, who disputed its functionality and whether he had accurately described it to the PTO (as part of an inequitable conduct claim).

After a series of electrical incidents and fires in his laboratory, involving visits from various electricians and fire control personnel, the inventor discovered that the prototypes were in a new box and that the MediKey device was missing. …

Judge Bryon issued an interesting stay opinion last Friday.

The plaintiff had initially asserted six patents. Of those, four were dismissed under § 101, and the claims as to one of the remaining patents were severed and stayed pending IPR.

The case was set to go to trial on the last remaining patent on November 30, just over 11 weeks from the date of the order. But, last month, the PTO granted a request for ex parte reexamination of the sole asserted claim of that patent.

Shortly after that, Judge Bryson issued his opinion granting a motion to stay pending re-exam. A couple of interesting points:

  • What a turnaround! Defendant first indicated it intended to request a stay …

This morning, Docket Navigator covered Judge Bryson's D. Del. discovery opinion that was made public this week, focusing on his denial of a motion to strike errata to a 30(b)(6) deposition transcript.

But there are (at least) three other interesting points about the errata in the opinion:

  • COVID issues make deposition errata more necessary:
Mr. Rothrock had to prepare for his deposition under difficult circumstances, including having to consult remotely with others in the company. Mr. Rothrock understandably could have made a mistake during his deposition in light of the numerous topics and challenging circumstances in which he was forced to prepare. Given those circumstances, I will not disregard Mr. Rothrock’s errata.
  • The Court noted that, as usual, …