July 18, 2012

Judge Gregory Sleet Issues Markman Order in Fluid Filtering Patent Infringement Case

Chief Judge Sleet recently issued a claim construction order after holding a Markman hearing in the patent infringement case Hollingsworth & Vose Filtration Ltd. v. Delstar Techs., Inc., C.A. No. 10-788-GMS (D. Del. Jul. 10, 2012). In the order, Judge Sleet construed the following terms:

- “comprising . . . a blend of polypropylene fibres and dry spun halogen free acrylic fibres”
- “substantially smooth surfaces”
- “significantly reduced cracks and fissures in the surfaces of the acrylic fibres than if produced by wet spinning”

In construing the first of these claim terms, Judge Sleet found the defendants’ reliance on Dippin’ Dots, Inc. v. Mosey, 476 F.3d 1337 (Fed. Cir. 2007) (write-up at Patently-O) “for the proposition that the term ‘comprising’ does not create an open-ended claim” improper. Id. at 1 n.1. Rather, he noted, the term “comprising” traditionally means “including, but not limited to.” Judge Sleet therefore construed this claim term to mean “a mixture of fibres that includes at least polypropylene fibres and dry spun halogen free acrylic fibres.” Id. at 1 (emphasis added).

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July 13, 2012

Judge Andrews construes claims relating to electronic imaging technology.

On June 22, 2012, Judge Andrews issued an opinion construing thirteen claim terms in L-3 Communications Corp.’s patents relating to electronic imaging technology. L-3 Communications Corp. v. Sony Corp., et al., C.A. No. 10-734-RGA (D. Del. June 22, 2012). The patents claim inventions that “use imaging arrays to convert invisible light to electrical signals that create a viewable image. The imaging arrays are formed by combinations of image elements, or pixels, which are further composed of various circuit components.” Id. at 2. The following disputed claim terms were considered:

“Provide” and “Providing”

“Image element”

“Charge storage element”

“Storage means for storing said charge at said image element”

“Gain control element”

“Charge drain”

“Means for draining stored charge from said charge storage means in response to an element resetting signal”

“Logic gate having a pair of inputs”

“An output switch having a control input which is one of said pair of inputs and when closed connecting said output voltage level to an output signal conductor”

“Means for randomly accessing said image elements”

“Means for photovoltaically producing an electrical charge in response to incident light”

“Connecting said stored charge to an output device only in response to an interrogation signal to said image element”

“Wherein said step of providing said output amplifier includes providing a transistor at said image element”

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July 13, 2012

Judge Andrews stays customer suit pending resolution of later filed DJ action filed by supplier

In Pragmatus Telecom, LLC v. Advanced Store Company, Inc., C.A. No. 12-088-RGA (D. Del. July 10, 2012), Judge Andrews granted defendants' motion to stay the case pending resolution of a later-filed declaratory judgment action filed by the supplier of the allegedly infringing technology. Judge Andrews determined a stay was warranted in the interest of judicial economy and efficiency, finding that any ruling in the later-filed action would "most likely be dispositive of this case[,]" and that the case was in its early stages with no trial currently scheduled. Id. at 4-5. Judge Andrews also found that plaintiff would not be prejudiced by a stay. "Pragmatus is solely in the business of monetizing patents, and since Customers are not 'direct competitors,' injunctive relief is not available. Any purported harm that Pragmatus suffers from a stay can be fully compensated by monetary damages." Id. at 5. Defendants also argued that the Customer Suit Exception to the First-Filed Rule also favored a stay. Judge Andrews determined, however, that while the reasoning behind the Customer Suit Exception supported granting a stay, the exception itself did not apply. "The First Filed Rule is a forum favoring rule, i.e., one that applies when multiple claims exist in multiple jurisdictions. Here, both [actions] are before this Court, and no 'forum favoring' is needed." Id. at 6.

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July 12, 2012

Court denies motion to compel production of expert interview notes, summaries

Magistrate Judge Schneider of the District of New Jersey, sitting by designation, recently issued a letter opinion denying a party's motion to compel the production of notes and summaries prepared by its counsel regarding interviews with expert witnesses. Bayer CropScience AG v. Dow AgroSciences LLC, C.A. No. 10-1045 (RBK/JS) (D. Del. July 6, 2012). Although Dow claimed it was seeking only facts through its discovery request, Judge Schneider found that "the facts included in the documents are inextricably intertwined with the core work product of Bayer's attorneys and they cannot be separated. Bayer's notes are replete with counsel's opinions, impressions, strategy, etc., and the Court finds that it is not feasible or practical to separate the core work product from the remainder of the documents." Id. at 1-2. Judge Schneider added that Bayer would not be required to summarize the facts from its expert interviews in interrogatory answers, citing the Supreme Court's seminal decision in Hickman v. Taylor, 329 U.S. 495, 512-13 (1947). Id. at 2 n.1.

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July 10, 2012

Judge Andrews Considers Motions to Dismiss, Sever

Judge Andrews has issued orders on motions to dismiss and sever in IPLearn, LLC v. BeeLine Acquisition Corp., C.A. No. 11-825-RGA (D. Del. July 2, 2012). As in other recent orders, Judge Andrews found that compliance with Form 18 is all that is needed to state a claim of direct infringement, citing In re Bill of Lading Transmission and Processing System Patent Litigation, 2012 WL 2044605 (Fed. Cir. June 7, 2012). He further found that the “plaintiff names specific products, and thus more than meets the requirements of Form 18.” Id. at 2. Judge Andrews also stated that the “allegations [were] insufficient to state a claim for indirect infringement” because there was “no allegation stating that [the defendant’s] customers directly infringe.” Id.

With regard to contributory infringement and induced infringement, Judge Andrews found that the allegations were “wholly devoid of any identifiable factual information.” In considering the requirement of knowledge of the patent, however, Judge Andrews noted: “I think that an allegation that a defendant was served with a complaint alleging patent infringement sufficiently alleges a factual basis that, beginning with the date that the complaint was served, the defendant knew of the patent. It does not provide any basis for knowledge predating such service.” Id. at 3 n.4.

Judge Andrews also granted motions to sever based on the Federal Circuit’s recent decision in In re EMC Corp., 677 F.3d 1351 (Fed. Cir. 2012). As Judge Andrews explained, “The Federal Circuit’s standard is that defendants should not be ‘joined under Rule 20’s transaction-or-occurrence test unless the facts underlying the claim of infringement asserted against each defendant share an aggregate of operative facts.’ Further, ‘joinder is not appropriate where different products or processes are involved.’ And, ‘independently developed products using differently sourced parts are not part of the same transaction, even if they are otherwise coincidentally identical.’” IPLearn, at 2 (citations omitted). Because there were no allegations in the complaint of any connection between the moving defendants or their products and any other defendant, Judge Andrews granted severance.

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July 9, 2012

Judge Andrews Applies Recent Appellate Decisions to Motions to Dismiss

Judge Andrews recently considered the motions of several defendants to dismiss claims of direct infringement, indirect infringement, and willfulness in HSM Portfolio LLC v. Fujitsu Ltd., C.A. No. 11-770-RGA (D. Del. July 3, 2012). Applying the Federal Circuit’s recent decision in In re Bill of Lading Transmission and Processing System Patent Litigation, 2012 WL 2044605, *7 (Fed. Cir. June 7, 2012), Judge Andrews denied motions to dismiss claims of direct infringement, because the “minimal allegations set forth in the counts against each of the defendants . . . are all that are required to satisfy Form 18 and to state a claim of direct infringement.” HSM Portfolio, at 2.

Judge Andrews dismissed claims of indirect infringement, however, finding that the allegations were “insufficient to state a claim for indirect infringement [because] . . . [a]mong other things, there are no allegations of direct infringement accompanying the allegations of indirect infringement.” Id. at 2. Considering the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Global-Tech Appliances, Inc. v. SEB S.A., 131 S. Ct. 2060 (2011), Judge Andrews further stated: “There is no allegation that the defendant knew about the existence of the patent-in-suit. . . . Stating that the defendant was on notice of a patent as of a certain date is insufficient to provide a factual basis for alleging knowledge” that the acts the defendant induced or contributed to constitute patent infringement. HSM Portfolio at 3.

On willfulness, Judge Andrews stated that a claim of willfulness “may be alleged generally, but that there must be facts alleged that are sufficient to show that the plaintiff has a plausible claim for relief.” Id. (internal quotations omitted). In this case, Judge Andrews found, there was no factual support for the allegations of willfulness.

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July 9, 2012

Judge Robinson grants motion to maintain status quo ante pending appeal of order denying preliminary injunction.

Judge Robinson recently granted a Rule 62(c) motion to maintain the status quo ante pending the appeal of an order denying a preliminary injunction. Butamax Advanced Biofuels LLC v. Gevo, Inc., C.A. No. 11-54-SLR (D. Del. July 6, 2012). The Court considered four factors in deciding whether to grant the motion, and added that the factors need not be given equal weight: “(1) whether the stay applicant has made a strong showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) whether the applicant will be irreparably injured absent a stay; (3) whether issuance of the stay will substantially injure the other parties interested in the proceeding; and (4) where the public interest lies.” Id. at 2 (citing Hilton v. Braunskill, 481 U.S. 770, 776 (1987); Standard Havens Prods., Inc. v. Gencor Indus., Inc., 897 F.2d 511, 512 (5th Cir. 1990)). Although the Court previously found that a preliminary injunction was not warranted because the plaintiff was unlikely to succeed on its infringement claim in light of the Court’s construction of certain claim terms, (see June 19, 2002 memorandum opinion), Judge Robinson explained that “the court readily acknowledges that the Federal Circuit could disagree with the court’s construction of these [terms] and, consequently, its ultimate conclusions.” Id. at 3. Further, the Court explained, “if the Federal Circuit reverses and finds the ‘899 patent valid and infringed, plaintiff will suffer irreparable harm…” Id. at 4. In addressing the equities, the Court considered that the defendant had argued previously that an injunction was unnecessary because “the parties were not head to head competitors in the automotive fuel blending industry.” Id. at 5 (internal quotation marks omitted). Under the circumstances, the Court explained, “it does not strike the court as inequitable to require defendant to restrict its business efforts pending appeal consistent with its representations in this litigation.” Id. at 5. The Court granted the plaintiff’s motion, “conditioned on plaintiff’s seeking … an expedited appeal … and posting a bond with the court.” Id. at 6 (emphasis in original).

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July 9, 2012

Judge Andrews denies motion to dismiss direct infringement claim.

Judge Andrews recently issued a memorandum order denying a motion to dismiss direct infringement claims relating to a patent for “Multi-User On-Line Real-Time Virtual Social Networks Based upon Communities of Interest for Entertainment, Information or E-Commerce Purposes.” Real Time Social Inventions LLC v. CMI Marketing Inc., C.A. No. 12-182-RGA (D. Del. June 29, 2012). Although the Court noted that the allegations of direct infringement were “sparse”, it explained that “[n]o more is required.” Id. (citing In re Bill of Lading Transmission and Processing Sys. Patent Litig., 2012 WL 2044605 (Fed. Cir. June 7, 2012) (“whether [a complaint] adequately pleads direct infringement is to be measured by the specificity required by Form 18.”)). In response to the defendants’ alternative request for “early claim construction that should resolve this case without the need to spend any resources on fact discovery”, (Reply Br., D.I. 12), Judge Andrews indicated that early claim construction could be discussed at the Rule 16 conference after the defendants filed answers to the complaint.

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July 5, 2012

Judge Andrews grants defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's first amended complaint and denies plaintiff's motion to amend its complaint a second time

In IPLearn LLC v. K12 Inc., C.A. No. 11-1026-RGA (D. Del. July 2, 2012), Judge Andrews recently granted defendant's motion to dismiss the indirect infringement claims of plaintiff's first amended complaint and denied plaintiff's motion to file a second amended complaint. Judge Andrews found that plaintiff's amended complaint contained no allegations that defendant's customers directly infringed the patents, nor did it adequately plead defendant's knowledge of the patents-in-suit. Id. at 2. Regarding knowledge, Judge Andrews noted that "each count alleges that, 'K12 knew or should have known of the [patent-in-suit] prior to the filing of this action because [Plaintiffs] patents directly related to the [patent-in-suit], and which share identical or identical-in-part specifications with the [patent-insuit], are referenced by, or were referenced during the prosecution of, K12's own patents and patent applications.' The factual support offered in the latter part of the sentence comes close to making an allegation of 'should have known' plausible; they do not make an allegation of actual knowledge plausible." Id. (alteration in original).

Judge Andrews also dismissed plaintiff's willfulness allegations, finding that "[a]t most, the factual allegations plausibly support the conclusion that both the Plaintiff and K12 had patents in the same field." Id. at 3.

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July 3, 2012

Judge Burke declines to modify Court's form langage in scheduling order regarding location of corporate depositions

In Invensas Corporation v. Renesas Electronics Corporation, C.A. No. 11-448-GMS-CJB (D. Del. June 27, 2012), Judge Burke recently considered defendant's request to modify the general default standard in the Court's scheduling order regarding the location of depositions of party representatives in Delaware, unless the Court makes an exception. Id. at 1-2. The form scheduling order for Judges Stark, Andrews, Burke and Fallon contain the following language regarding the location of depositions:

"Any party or representative (officer, director, or managing agent) of a party filing a civil action in this district court must ordinarily be required, upon request, to submit to a deposition at a place designated within this district. Exceptions to this general rule may be made by order of the Court. A defendant who becomes a counterclaimant, cross-claimant, or third-party plaintiff shall be considered as having filed an action in this Court for the purpose of this provision." Id. at 1-2.

When submitting the scheduling order, the parties disputed whether the default provision should apply and Judge Burke permitted supplemental briefing on the issue. Defendant, whose principal place of business is in Japan, asked the Court to eliminate this standard language and instead require corporate depositions take place at the party's principal place of business (i.e., Japan). Id. at 2. Judge Burke declined to modify the Court's form language in the scheduling order, finding that defendant "ma[de] the general assertion that it would be burdensome for its employees to travel to the United States for corporate depositions, but ha[d] not made a particularlize showing as to how this would be the case." Id. at 6. Defendant's request was "non-specific and premature" because, "[a]t this early stage of the case, topics for corporate depositions have not been noticed, nor have specific witnesses . . . been identified[,]" such that the court could know the impact travelling to the United States would have on one or more witnesses. Id.

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