Judge Sleet denies motion to lift stay pending reexamination after PTO granted second reexamination request
In a recent Order, Chief Judge Gregory M. Sleet denied plaintiff’s motion to lift a stay pending reexamination that the Court had granted in September 2012. Walker Digital, LLC v. Canon U.S.A., Inc., et al., C.A. No. 11-326-GMS, at 1 (D. Del. Jan. 28, 2013). Since the Court had granted the stay, the USPTO had completed its reexamination and had rejected twenty-seven out of the twenty-nine original claims of the patent-in-suit. Id. at 1, 2 n.1. Two weeks later it granted a second request for reexamination of the two remaining claims. Id. at 1. The Court examined the traditional factors in determining whether a stay was appropriate “with an eye toward any . . . changed circumstances since it ordered the initial stay.” Id. at 2 n.1. It concluded that “[c]ircumstances have not changed so drastically as to have altered the court’s earlier disposition.” Id. at 1 n.2.
Only undue prejudice was of “increased concern” to the Court. Id. at 2 n.1. The Court concluded that factors relating to the second reexamination “will subject [plaintiff] to some added measure of prejudice.” Id. at 3 n.1. “The PTO's second reexamination was made necessary, at least in part, by [defendant's] failure to include certain prior art in its initial reexamination request. The court, however, has recognized the difficulty a party faces in compiling an exhaustive catalogue of prior art and balancing its duty to file a prompt reexamination request with its desire to submit all relevant prior art to the PTO . . . Here, [defendant's] piecemeal reexamination efforts certainly raise the specter of unjust delay, but, at this time, the court will not infer that the defendants sought an inappropriate tactical advantage - the delay might just as easily represent the sort of innocent failure that one would expect to result from the balancing discussed above.” Id. at 3 n.1. Additionally, “[t]he status of the reexamination proceeding also [gave] the court pause in considering the prejudice factor” because “it [was] reasonable to presume that the [second reexamination] might last into 2015.” Id.
However, these increased concerns about prejudice “remain[ed] outweighed within the larger stay analysis. Should new developments arise, another motion to lift the stay may be warranted, but the court must deny [plaintiff’s] present motion.” Id. at 4 n.1.