Articles Posted in Richard G. Andrews

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In Chalumeau Power Systems LLC v. Alcatel-Lucent, et al., C.A. No. 11-1175-RGA (D. Del. Sept. 12, 2014), Judge Richard G. Andrews recently determined that defendants were entitled to attorneys’ fees and costs under Section 285.   Plaintiff had dismissed its complaint, citing a change in “the economics of the case” as a result of defendants’ new licensing defense; defendants then filed the instant motion.  Id. at 1.

Applying the Supreme Court’s standard for Section 285 awards, see Octane Fitness, LLC v. ICON Health & Fitness, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 1749, 1756 (2014), the Court first concluded that plaintiff’s infringement theories and claim construction positions were frivolous.  See id. at 2-6.  Once the Court requested documentary evidence of plaintiff’s pre-suit investigation, it became clear that plaintiff had not “vetted” every accused patent family before filing suit, as it had previously claimed to have done.  Id. at 3.  The Court observed that the single, 5-page document produced in camera grouped claim limitations too broadly, “encompassing multiple disputed terms in each group.”  Id. at 4.  The Court explained that “[a] pre-suit investigation which lumps so many limitations together does not demonstrate an adequate investigation into whether the accused device infringes each and every claim limitation.”  Id.  The Court then analyzed plaintiff’s claim construction positions, and found them similarly frivolous.  See id. at 4-6.

The Court also found that plaintiff’s litigation conduct warranted a finding that the case was exceptional.  Plaintiff had opposed defendants’ motion to add a license defense as futile, even though plaintiff now claimed that it was this defense that had caused it to drop the suit.  Id. at 6-7.  The Court concluded that plaintiff’s litigation strategy was to “extort[] a settlement fee” as it “st[rung] out the case in the hopes that [defendant] would incur fees while [plaintiff] would not.  [Plaintiff] did not even disclose an expert until” days before the close of fact discovery.”  Id. at 7.
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Judge Andrews has denied a motion for summary judgment of non-infringement in litigation between Plaintiff Openwave Systems and Defendants Apple and RIM, although he did so “with some frustration.” Openwave Sys., Inc. v. Apple Inc., et al., C.A. No. 11-765-RGA, Memo. Or. at 3 (D. Del. Sept. 9, 2014). Judge Andrews’ frustration stemmed from the “unexpected” nature of the motion, given that the plaintiff had previously stated that if the Court adopts a construction “that matches the ALJ’s construction [from a related action] in all material respects, the parties will meet and confer to present a motion or stipulation to the Court terminating this case.” Id. at 1. Judge Andrews did, in fact, adopt such a matching construction, adding only a footnote clarifying the ALJ’s construction by saying it “does not read out embodiments including microcontrollers.” Id. The plaintiff then argued that this footnote was a material difference from the ALJ’s construction, and the defendants moved for summary judgment. Id.

Judge Andrews indicated that he disagreed that his footnote was a material difference in claim construction, but would not “further consider at this time the consequences of Plaintiff’s unfulfilled representations,” although he expected to “be able to revisit [this topic] when the question of sanctions or exceptional case arises.” Id. at 1, 3. Turning to the substance of the non-infringement motion, Judge Andrews explained that the plaintiff attempted to show a genuine issue of material fact because each accused product contains a computer module and also a microcontroller. Although the patents disclaimed devices containing computer modules, “a microcontroller can be considered a computer module, [so] saying that something is a computer module does not necessarily mean that it is anything different than a microcontroller.” Id. at 2. Thus, Judge Andrews concluded, “the patentee distinguished computer modules from microcontrollers, but the distinction between the two, which may be obvious to a POSITA, is not obvious to me. Therefore, while it is clear to me that the question of infringement is whether the accused products contain a computer module that is not solely a microcontroller, the answer is not clear based on the record before me.” Id. at 3.

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Judge Richard G. Andrews recently issued a claim construction ruling in three related cases. Pragmatus Telecom, LLC v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., et al., Master Docket No. 12-1533-RGA (D. Del. Sept. 9, 2014).  The Court construed the following claim terms:

  • “server” and “the server”
  • “help request form including the customer IP address”
  • “upon selection of the remote help option, send a help request to the call center”
  • “a contact channel”
  • “a WWW server comprising ‘means for providing access by customers to a web page including a help request interface for receiving requests for help from customers’”
  • “CGI programs”
  • “automated call distribution system”
  • “call center” and “call centre”
  • “customer IP address”

The Court noted that during oral argument the parties agreed to constructions of the following terms, which the Court adopted:

  • “remote help option”
  • “help request form” and “help request” and “requests for help”

Based on the Court’s constructions, and adoption of the parties’ agreed constructions, the Court gave the following terms their plain and ordinary meaning:

  • “the remote help option provides for the selection of one of a plurality of different contact channels”
  • “help request form including the customer IP address”

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Judge Andrews recently issued his construction of numerous disputed terms from the 100-plus claims of Semcon Tech’s U.S. Patent No. 7,156,717. The terms construed were:
- “tracked information”
- “control parameters”
- “finishing cycle time”
- “in situ finishing information”
- “in situ process information”
- “processor to evaluate the in situ process information and the tracked information”
- “processor for processing: (i) the tracked information, and (ii) historical performance”
- “[a multiplicity of] finishing information”
- “tracked semiconductor wafer”
- “a family of stored information”
- “member [of/in] the family of stored information”
- “historical performance”
- “a first uniform region”
- “a second uniform region”
- “one uniform region”
- “heterogeneous semiconductor wafer surface”
- “heterogeneous regions of a semiconductor wafer surface”
-

Semcon Tech, LLC v. Micron Tech., Inc., C.A. No. 12-532-RGA, Memo. Op. at 3-19 (D. Del. Sept. 9, 2014). The parties also requested construction of “several lengthy claim terms largely comprised of the terms construed above,” and Judge Andrews found that the “terms that required construction have been construed . . . [and] the remainder of the long phrases receive their plain and ordinary meaning.” Id. at 19.

Interestingly, with respect to “finishing cycle time,” the patentee acted as his own lexicographer. Because the parties disagreed about the meaning of the definition provided in the specification, however, at the Markman hearing Judge Andrews requested supplemental briefing on the necessity of construing the patent’s definition. Based on authority submitted by the defendant, Judge Andrews concluded that it was proper “if necessary to reach the correct construction, [for] a district court [to] elucidate a claim’s meaning by providing a derivative construction of a nonclaim term.” Nevertheless, such “additional judicial guidance” was not necessary to reach the construction of “finishing cycle time,” and Judge Andrews adopted the patentee’s lexicographical definition in the specification. Id. at 7-8.

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Judge Andrews has invalidated claim 1 of Tuxis Tech’s Patent No. 6,055,513 under 35 U.S.C. 101 at the pleadings stage of Tuxis’ infringement suit against Amazon. The patent is directed to what the parties and the Court characterized as “upselling,” i.e. offering a second product to a buyer who has already made a decision to purchase a first product. Judge Andrews found it “clear that the claim 1 of the ‘513 patent is drawn to unpatentable subject matter. It claims the fundamental concept of upselling—a marketing technique as old as the field itself. While the additional limitations of the claim do narrow its scope, they are insufficient to save it from invalidity.” Tuxis Techs., LLC v. Amazon.com, Inc., C.A. No. 13-1771-RGA, Memo. Op. at 4 (D. Del. Sept. 3, 2014).

The parties agreed that upselling is an abstract idea, but disagreed as to whether the claim at issue was meaningfully limited and thus does not pre-empt use of the abstract idea. Id. at 5. On this point, Judge Andrews found that after “analyzing the additional limitations imposed by claim 1 of the ‘513 patent, the idea of upselling has not been sufficiently limited to prevent the claim from ‘cover[ing] the full abstract idea itself.’” Id. at 5-6. Judge Andrews found that none of the limitations identified by the patentee were “meaningful” and allowing the claim to survive would “permit the general concept of upselling to be patented, which pre-empts its use in all fields and ‘effectively grant[s] a monopoly over an abstract idea.’” Id. at 6-7.

Judge Andrews further explained that claim 1 lacked an “inventive concept.” His Honor illustrated this point with an example showing how “[s]hrewd sales representatives have long made their living off of this basic practice”:

A man enters a clothing store to purchase a new pair of dress slacks (“a user initiated primary transaction for the purchase of a good or service”). The sales representative assists the man in finding a pair of pants, and in the process learns that the man is a banker (“a second data element relating to the [identity of the customer]“). Knowing that suspenders are fashionable in the banking profession, the sales representative offers the banker a pair of suspenders that match his pants (”utilizing at least in part the primary transaction data including the identity of the good or service of the primary transaction and the second data element [related to the customer] and determining at least one item for a prospective upsell”). The customer agrees with the sales representative and purchases the suspenders (“receiving an acceptance of the offer … in real time”). This type of marketing strategy is at the heart of claim 1 and has been practiced as long as markets have been in operation.

Id. at 8. Accordingly, Judge Andrews found claim 1 invalid and granted Amazon’s motion to dismiss.

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Judge Richard G. Andrews recently considered GeoTag, Inc.’s motion to dismiss Microsoft and Google’s (“Plaintiffs”) amended complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  Microsoft Corp. et al. v GeoTag, Inc., C.A. No. 11-175-RGA (D. Del. Aug. 29, 2014).  Judge Andrews considered an earlier motion on similar grounds but gave Plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint.  GeoTag renewed its motion in opposition to Plaintiffs’ amended complaint.  Id. at 1.  This declaratory judgment action was filed by Plaintiffs in response to GeoTag’s suits filed in the Eastern District of Texas against Plaintiffs’ customers.  Plaintiffs argued that the Court had subject matter jurisdiction  because “‘GeoTag’s Texas lawsuits implied an assertion of both indirect and direct infringement against Google and Microsoft, and a live controversy therefore existed as to the Google and Microsoft products accused by GeoTag’s Texas lawsuits against their customers.’”  Id. at 2.  Under MedImmune, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., 549 U.S. 118 (2007), this implied assertion of infringement “created a justiciable dispute.”  Id. at 3.

GeoTag disputed “Plaintiffs’ implied assertion of direct infringement,” arguing that it “‘would mean that the patentee made incorrect allegations of direct infringement against a customer that, unbeknownst to the patentee, would constitute implied assertions of direct infringement against the supplier.’”  Id.  Judge Andrew disagreed because, under 35 U.S.C. § 271, a customer and vendor can both directly infringe a patent based on the same conduct.  Id.  3-4.  Judge Andrews determined that subject matter jurisdiction was present because an express accusation need not occur, only whether there was “‘a reasonable potential that such a claim could be brought.’”  Id.  at 4. (quoting Microsoft Corp. v. DataTern, Inc., 755 F.3d 899, 905 (Fed. Cir. 2014)).  Because “reasonable potential” existed, Judge Andrews denied GeoTag’s motion as to direct infringement.  Judge Andrews also determined that subject matter jurisdiction existed based upon an implied assumption of induced infringement because, despite being aware of allegations against its customers, Google provided articles to customers on how to create store locators.  Id. at 5.  In Judge Andrews view, Plaintiffs’ actions “established a ‘reasonable potential’ GeoTag could have brought induced infringement claims.”  Id.

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Judge Richard G. Andrews recently issued a post-trial opinion in Novartis’s suit over the generic version of its Exelon® transdermal patch.  Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., et al. v. Par Pharmaceutical, Inc., et al., C.A. No. 11-1077-RGA (D. Del. Aug. 29, 2014).  Novartis alleged that Par’s Abbreviated New Drug Application (“ANDA”) for a “rivastigmine transdermal system” infringed its U.S. Patent Nos. 6,335,031 and 6,316,023.  Id. at 1.  After a two-day bench trial the Court determined that Novartis failed to prove that Par’s ANDA infringed the patents-in-suit.  Id. at 2.  Because defendant’s counterclaim of invalidity was “based upon a finding of infringement,” the Court did not reach the issue of invalidity.  Id. at 2 n.5.

Click through to read the Novartis opinion.

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Following a two day bench trial in Fresenius Kabi USA, LLC v. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. et al., C.A. Nos. 13-925, 13-1015-RGA (D. Del. Aug. 25, 2014), Judge Richard G. Andrews found that plaintiff failed to prove that defendants’ ANDA products infringe claims 1, 16, 36, an 37 of the patents-in-suit. Defendants certified that the only differences between plaintiff’s brand drug, Diprivan, and defendants’ ANDA products are the “antimicrobial agents” (i.e., “the preservatives”). Id. at 3. Additionally, plaintiff conceded that “there is no literal infringement, but claim[ed] that Defendants ANDA products infringe under the doctrine of equivalents.” Id. While plaintiff argued that “dipropofol” was the equivalent, Judge Andrews concluded that dipropofol was not actually the preservative in defendants’ ANDA products. Id. at 6-8. To this end, Judge Andrews noted that while plaintiff “was not under an obligation to prove that the ANDA products contained dipropofol, it would have been probative of whether the identified preservatives were responsible for antimicrobial activity.” Id. at 8 n.3. Judge Andrews also concluded that dipropofol does not function in substantially the same way as edetate, the preservative appearing in the asserted claims, and thus concluded that defendants’ ANDA products do not infringe. Id. at 8-11.

 

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In Art+Com Innovationpool GmbH v. Google, Inc., C.A. No. 14-217-RGA (D. Del.), Judge Richard G. Andrews had previously denied plaintiff’s motion for judgment on the pleadings as to defendant’s laches defense.  D.I. 33.  The Court now denied plaintiff’s motion to certify the case for interlocutory appeal.  Slip Op. (Aug. 26, 2014).

The Court explained that, even if the Federal Circuit accepted the Court’s certification (which was “seriously doubt[ful]”), the Court’s decision would either be affirmed or, if reversed, “the case would continue with only 91% of the asserted defenses.”  Id. at 1.  Therefore, the Court did not find the disputed issue “a controlling question of law,” nor would interlocutory appeal “materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation.”  Id.

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Judge Richard G. Andrews recently considered defendants’ motion requesting the Court find certain terms of the patents-in-suit indefinite under 35 U.S.C. § 112.  IpLearn, LLC v. Blackboard, Inc., et al., C.A. Nos. 11-876-RGA, 11-1026-RGA (D. Del. Aug. 26, 2014).  Defendants argued that the claim terms at issue (“the user” and ” [considers/considering] at least a preference of the learner, other than the fact that the learner might prefer to learn the subject”) were indefinite under Nautilus, Inc. v. Biosig Instruments, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2120, 2124 (2014), because they did not provide “reasonable certainty” as to the scope of the invention.  Id. at 2.  Plaintiff, on the other hand, argued that the claim terms as construed by the Court were clear, and that the defendants’ did not meet their burden to present evidence to the Court “indicating whether a person of ordinary skill in the art (“POSITA”) at the time of the drafting of the claim would have reasonable certainty as to what the inventor claimed.”  Id. Judge Andrews agreed:

This lack of evidence was highlighted at oral argument when the Defendants were asked on several occasions what evidence they had regarding a POSITA’s understanding of the claim, and on each occasion failed to directly address the Court’s question. In fact, in one of the rare instances where Counsel did provide the Court with citations to the record, the citations did not provide the evidence the Court was asking for. For example, when asked by the Court if a POSITA would understand the claim, Plaintiffs counsel directed the Court’s attention to page 5 of their July 3rd, 2014 reply brief. However, when the Court examined that page, along with the reference to paragraph 172 of Dr. Kris Jamsa’s report, neither made any reference to a POSITA. Dr. Jamsa knew what a POSITA was. Dr. Jamsa referred to a POSITA in making other invalidity arguments. Thus, he knew how to refer to a POSITA when he thought it appropriate to do so.

Id. at 3.

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