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In Idenix Pharmaceuticals LLC, et al. v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., et al., C.A. Nos. 13-1987-LPS, 14-109-LPS, 14-848-LPS (D. Del. Dec. 4, 2016), Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark considered a number of the parties’ disputes related to introducing deposition testimony and related documents, in anticipation of the trial in this case.  The Court overruled two of these objections as waived; while timely, the objections contained significantly more argument than the pre-trial order allowed for such objections and were essentially improper motions in limineId. at 1-2.  However, the Court also considered and rejected these two objections on their merits.  As to the first, it overruled an objection to testimony related to which of the parties was the true innovator as relevant to willfulness and damages. The Court explained that this evidence involving events taking place prior to issuance of a patent may be relevant to willfulness ecause “the Court [was not] persuaded that the law absolutely precludes pre-patent conduct from being probative of willfulness.”  Id. at 2.  As to the second, the Court ruled the disputed testimony was a party admission and thus admissible, and, furthermore, the “contentions regarding speculation, and its disputes as to whether the evidence on the whole supports the inferences [plaintiffs] will ask the jury to draw, go to the weight and not admissibility of the challenged evidence.”  Id. at 3.

Idenix Pharmaceuticals LLC, et al. v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., et al., C.A. Nos. 13-1987-LPS, 14-109-LPS, 14-848-LPS (D. Del. Dec. 4, 2016)

 

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Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark recently considered plaintiffs’ request to supplement the joint claim chart in Meda Pharmaceuticals Inc. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., No. 15-785-LPS (D. Del. Dec.7, 2016), to include exhibits from the prosecution history of the patent-in-suit.   Plaintiffs submitted the additional exhibits for inclusion in the chart, and consideration by the Court, just days before the Markman hearing.  Shortly before the request, the Court denied plaintiffs’ motion to amend its complaint to assert the Certificate of Correction in this case, which, if allowed, “would have obviated the need to construe claims 28-30 of the ‘428 patent[.]”  Id. at 1.  The additional exhibits to the joint claim chart included “a listing of claims before allowance” and “a request for expedited issuance of a Certificate of Correction.”  Id.  Defendants opposed the additional exhibits arguing that plaintiffs effectively were seeking to reargue the Court’s denial of the motion to amend, and characterized the Court’s decision on that motion “as holding ‘that the Certificate of Correction is inapplicable and that the Court will construe the uncorrected patent using the existing claim construction briefs as they were submitted.'”  Id. at 2.  Judge Stark disagreed:

The order denied Plaintiffs’ motion for leave to amend the complaint to assert the Certificate of Correction, which would have resolved the parties’ dispute regarding the proper construction of claims 28-30 of the ‘428 patent. The Court’s denial of Plaintiffs’ motion left claims 28-30 in their uncorrected form and needing construction. The Court did not reach any decision regarding what evidence would be considered when construing the claims.

Id. 

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Magistrate Judge Christopher J. Burke recently recommended that a motion to dismiss filed by Toshiba entities be granted because the complaint against them failed to distinguish between the entities and thereby failed to plausibly allege direct infringement against any one of them.  North Star Innovations, Inc. v. Toshiba Corp., et al., C.A. 16-115-LPS-CJB (D. Del. Dec. 6, 2016).  As Judge Burke explained, “nowhere in any part of the [complaint] is it clearly alleged that either Defendant takes part in any specific infringing act–instead, it is vaguely alleged that they may commit one ‘or’ another ‘or’ some ‘or’ all of the relevant possible acts that would amount to direct infringement.” (emphasis in original).  Judge Burke added, “[t]his leaves the reader confused about which, if any, of these acts are actually being attributed to each Defendant.  And if the Court wished to assure itself that there is a plausible claim that each Defendant has committed at least one such wrongful act in the United States . . ., it could not do so, since there are no other factual allegations about the nature of Defendants’ business, nor their activities in the United States.” (emphasis in original).

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Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark recently ruled on several motions in limine in advance of an upcoming jury trial between Idenix and Gilead.  Idenix Pharmaceuticals LLC, et al. v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., et al., C.A. No. 13-1987 (and related cases 14-109-LPS, 14-846-LPS) (D. Del. Nov. 22, 2016).  Of note, Judge Stark denied Idenix’s motion to preclude evidence of certain experiments performed by Idenix, explaining that the “evidence that Plaintiffs may have failed to make a purported embodiment of the patent-in-suit is probative of whether the inventors of the patent-in-suit were in possession of the claimed subject matter as of the filing date; i.e., the evidence is probative of Defendant’s written description defense.”  Judge Stark also denied Idenix’s motion to exclude reference to Idenix’s alleged drafting of claims based on the disclosures of a non-party.  Specifically, the Court found that “[a] reasonable jury could credit Defendant’s evidence that in the immediate aftermath of Pharmasset’s Dr. Schinazi making certain disclosures to Idenix’s patent attorney, Idenix cancelled all pending original claims and added broader claims, which may be probative of Idenix’s inventors not being in possession of the full scope of the ultimately claimed inventions . . . .”

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In a recent Memorandum Order, Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark adopted Magistrate Judge Christopher J. Burke’s Report and Recommendation (the “Report”) dated June 30, 2016 (D.I. 108), which (i) found the terms “access block” and “media block” (collectively, the “block terms”) not indefinite; and (ii) construed the term “providing, by the media block, a clickable icon.” Triplay, Inc. v. Whatsapp, Inc., C.A. No. 13-1703-LPS-CJB (D. Del. Nov. 15, 2016).

First, Defendant (“Whatsapp”) objected to the Report’s conclusion that the block terms are not indefinite, asserting that the block terms must be construed as means-plus-function terms under § 112, ¶ 6. Id. at 2. Judge Stark disagreed, and adopted the Report’s conclusions that the blocks terms should not be construed as mean-plus-function terms, and that the terms are not indefinite. Specifically, Judge Stark found that the rebuttable presumption that § 112 ¶ 6 does not apply was not overcome. Judge Stark observed that the patents at issue “include significantly more detail defining the block terms at issue in this case than the specification of the patent-in-suit” in Williamson v. Citrix Online, LLC, 792 F.3d 1339 (Fed. Cir. 2015), cited by Whatsapp in support of its position. Id. at 4. Judge Stark further explained that the patents at issue “disclose adequate structure to define the block terms by describing the internal components and operative algorithms associated with the terms, as explained in the Report.” Id. Judge Stark also found that plaintiff’s (“Triplay”) expert report supported “that a person of ordinary skill in the art would understand, with reasonable certainty, the scope of the algorithmic ‘structure’ invoked by the block terms.” Id. at 5. Judge Stark noted that the “functional language describing the operation of the block terms ‘promotes definiteness because it helps bound the scope of the claims by specifying the operations that the [block terms] must undertake.’” Id. at 7.

Second, Triplay objected to the Report’s construction of the term “providing, by the media block, a clickable icon.” Id. Specifically, Triplay raised two objections: “(1) the phrase ‘clickable icon’ should be limited to a ‘link’ rather than a ‘visual representation that is clickable,’ contrary to the construction recommended in the Report, and (2) the Report erred in declining to construe the larger phrase ‘providing … a clickable icon.’” Id. Denying Triplay’s objections, Judge Stark observed that “[t]here is no clear indication in the intrinsic record that the disputed term should take on any other meaning in the context of the” patents at issue. Id. at 8. Judge Stark further noted that while the “specification can – without an express disavowal – direct a person of ordinary skill in the art to a narrower construction than the words [of a claim] would suggest”, through (for example) an implicit disclaimer, the specifications here do not do so.” Id. (citations omitted).

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In a series of related actions, Chief Judge Leonard P. Stark issued a claim construction opinion in which he concluded that the relevant claims’ preambles were limiting. E.g., Idenix Pharmaceuticals LLC, et al. v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., et al, C.A. No. 13-1987-LPS (D. Del. Nov. 16, 2016).

The Court concluded that the preamble section “method for [the] treatment of Hepatitis C virus infection” that appeared in both patents were claim limitations, as argued by Plaintiffs. Id. at 8-10. The Court concluded that the preambles were “essential to understand[ing] limitations or terms in the claim body” because “a full understanding of the ‘effective amount’ terms [in the claims] depends on what the relevant compounds must be effective for,i.e., the treatment of Hepatitis C. Id. at 9-10 (alterations and emphasis in original) (citations omitted). The Court also adopted Plaintiffs’ proposal that this limitation be given its plain and ordinary meaning. Id. at 10.

E.g., Idenix Pharmaceuticals LLC, et al. v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., et al, C.A. No. 13-1987-LPS (D. Del. Nov. 16, 2016)

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Chief Judge Stark recently granted a motion to stay litigation until the issuance of decisions by the PTAB in related inter partes review proceedings. The PTAB instituted IPR in July 2016 on every claim that is asserted in the District Court litigation and must issue a final written decision by July 2017. 454 Life Sciences Corp. v. Ion Torrent Systems, Inc., et al., C.A. No. 15-595-LPS, Memo. Or. at 4 (D. Del. Nov. 7, 2016). Because of that institution, Judge Stark found a “very strong likelihood that the IPR proceedings will simplify the issues for trial,” particularly given the potential for estoppel and the creation of additional prosecution history. Id. at 5-6. Additionally, the case was “still in its very early stages and much work remains to be done that could be averted by a stay” and the IPR proceedings were “relatively, mature . . . set for oral argument (if requested) . . . [and the] requested stay, therefore, is almost certainly likely to last no longer than eight months.” Id. at 8. Finally, Judge Stark concluded that, despite some degree of direct competition between the parties, the Plaintiff was not likely to be prejudiced by a stay given that the IPR petitions had been filed less than six months into the litigation and the motion to stay had been filed shortly after the PTAB’s decision to institute the IPRs, “which is generally the ideal time at which to file such a request.” Id. at 8-10.

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Judge Gregory M. Sleet recently issued an Order construing various terms across U.S. Patent Nos. 6,417,175 and 8,247,400. Forest Laboratories, LLC v. Apotex Corp., C.A. No. 15-018-consol. (D. Del. Nov. 8, 2016). Notably, Judge Sleet construed the preamble term “a method for treating a bacterial infection” to be limiting. Id. at 4 n.5. Defendants argued that the preamble was not limiting and “merely statement of intended outcome.” Defendants attempted to analogize the preamble to the preamble at issue in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Ben Venue Labs., Inc., 246 F.3d 1368 (Fed. Cir. 2001). In Bristol-Myers, “the Federal Circuit found no error in the district court’s interpretation of the phrase ‘for reducing hematologic toxicity’ as non-limiting.” The Federal Circuit found that “the steps of the claimed infusion method are performed the same way regardless of whether there is a reduction in hematologic toxicity” and that “[t]he preamble did not alter or explain the meaning of the term ‘effective amount,’ found in the body of the claim.” Id.

Judge Sleet found defendants’ argument unpersuasive, and was guided by Judge Andrews’ analysis in Sanofi v. Lupin Atlantis Holdings S.A., 2016 WL 5842327 (D. Del. Oct. 3, 2016). Judge Sleet observed that “[t]he claims at issue here do not provide a definition for ‘effective amount’ in the body of the claim. Instead, ‘effective amount’ derives its meaning from the preamble.” Judge Sleet distinguished this case from Bristol-Myers, where “the preamble did not provide antecedent basis for any terms in the body of the claims.” Rather, in Bristol-Myers, “the body of the claim provided the definition for ‘an antineoplastically effective amount’ because the dosage requirements outlined in the claims were described as antineoplastically effective in the specification.” Judge Sleet ultimately determined that “[b]ecause the meaning of effective amount is unclear without the preamble, the preamble is construed as limiting.” Id.

Forest Laboratories, LLC v. Apotex Corp., C.A. No. 15-018-consol. (D. Del. Nov. 8, 2016).

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In a recent Order, Judge Richard G. Andrews granted disclosure of four documents of defendants’ “Indian ‘in-house counsel’ or subordinates of ‘in-house counsel’” after determining that the attorney-client privilege did not protect those documents. Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals v. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories SA, C.A. No. 14-1451-RGA (D. Del. Nov. 4, 2016).

As Judge Andrews explained, the “dispositive issue is whether under U.S. privilege law, the three Indian in-house employees constitute ‘a member of the bar of a court, or his subordinate.’” Id. at 3. To resolve this issue, Judge Andrews relied on the opinion of Retired Justice Srikrishna, who previously “opined on the role of Indian in-house counsel in the context of the Indian legal system and whose opinion was requested by Circuit Judge Jordan.” Id. (citing Shire Dev. Inc. v. Cadila Healthcare Ltd., C.A. No. 10-581-KAJ (D.I. 209) (D. Del. June 28, 2012)). Judge Andrews explained:

According to Retired Justice Srikrishna’s opinion, there is “only one class of legal practitioners known as advocates” in India. Only advocates are “entitled to practice the profession of law.” Advocates have the “right to practice throughout the territories of India in all courts, before any tribunal or person legally authorized to take evidence or before any other authority . . . .” Generally, only advocates are “entitled to practice in any court or before any authority or person . . . .” “[I]n-house counsel would not come within the definition of ‘advocate.’” “[A] person who is in full time employment of an employer ceases to be an advocate.”

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In a recent Memorandum Order, Judge Sue L. Robinson resolved various disputes, including defendant’s motion for leave to amend with antitrust counterclaims, limitations on asserted claims and prior art, and whether a certain affidavit was protected under the work product doctrine. Quest Integrity USA, LLC v. Clean Harbors Industrial Services, Inc., C.A. Nos. 14-1482, 14-1483-SLR (D. Del. Nov. 1, 2016).

First, Judge Robinson granted defendant Cokebuster USA Inc.’s motion for leave to file Walker Process antitrust counterclaims, as it was “timely filed and sufficiently pled.” Id. at 1. Judge Robinson ruled, however, that “consistent with the court’s practice, the antitrust counterclaims are hereby bifurcated, to be tried (if at all) after the Federal Circuit has had the opportunity to review the merits of the patent litigation on appeal. Any issues related to discovery shall be addressed at that time.” Id. at 1-2.

Second, Judge Robinson denied plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration, in which plaintiff (“Quest”) complained that “placing limits on the number of claims it can assert through expert discovery and trial is prejudicial.” Id. at 2. Judge Robinson found that “by the time the claim limits were imposed . . . , Quest had sufficient information to choose representative claims: (a) fact discovery was substantially completed; (b) the court’s claim construction order had issued; and (c) Quest initiated the litigation with a preliminary injunction proceeding, giving the parties a substantial amount of information at the outset.” Id. at 2-3.

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