Judge Gregory M. Sleet recently granted-in-part defendants' motion to stay litigation against defendant Bruker-AXS, Inc.'s customers pending the plaintiff's suit against the manufacturer of the accused products, Bruker-AKS, Inc. Vertical Analytics LLC v. Bruker-AXS, Inc., et al, C.A. No. 12-1187-GMS (D. Del. Sept. 27, 2013). Judge Sleet denied defendants' request to stay the entire litigation, but did stay discovery against the defendant customers until plaintiff could demonstrate that it needed such discovery because the information obtained from defendant Bruker-AXS, Inc., was insufficient. Id. at 1-2.
Judge Sleet denies post-trial motions contesting invalidity and non-infringement, denies motion for attorney’s fees
In Finjan, Inc. v. Symantec Corp. et al., C.A. No. 10-593-GMS (D. Del. Sept. 19, 2013), Chief Judge Gregory M. Sleet denied several post-trial motions. Following a thirteen-day jury trial in December 2012, the jury returned “a unanimous verdict in favor of each of the defendants on the issues of infringement with respect to each asserted claims on the patents-in-suit,” U.S. Patent Nos. 6,480,962 and 6,092,194. Id. at 1-2. The jury additionally found “that the asserted claims of the patents -in-suit were invalid due to obviousness and anticipation.” Id. at 2. During the trial, defendants and plaintiff had moved for judgment as matter of law (“JMOL”) on numerous grounds pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 50(a), and the court denied all of those motions. Id. at 1. After the trial, plaintiff filed renewed motions for JMOL, and, in the alternative, moved the court for a new trial. Judge Sleet first denied plaintiff’s renewed motions for JMOL with respect to invaldity, finding that defendants introduced substantial evidence sufficient to support a jury verdict of invalidity on the grounds of obviousness and anticipation. Judge Sleet similarly denied plaintiff’s renewed motions for JMOL with respect to the jury’s verdict of non-infringement. Judge Sleet additionally denied plaintiff’s alternative motion for a new trial.
Judge Sleet also denied one defendant’s motion for attorney’s fees. Judge Sleet noted, among other things, that “this case does not rise to a level of bad faith or vexatious litigation that warrants an award of attorney fees and costs.” Id. at 83. He similarly noted that “[f]or the most part, the parties defended their respective positions throughout this litigation in apparent good faith and the court does not find evidence in the record sufficient to support the assertion that [plaintiff] acted in subjective bad faith or conducted litigation in a manner warranting attorney fees.” Id. at 83.
Judge Leonard Stark recently decided several summary judgment motions in the ongoing patent infringement dispute between patent-owner Personalized User Model, L.L.P. and Google. The patents-in-suit relate generally to methods for “providing a more personalized experience for internet users based on individual user interests.” Personalized User Model, L.L.P. v. Google Inc., C.A. No. 09-525-LPS, Memo. Op. at 1-2 (D. Del. Sept. 20, 2013). With only one exception, Judge Stark denied all motions for summary judgment including for findings of non-infringement, invalidity, breach of contract, declaration of ownership, and lack of standing. Considering Google’s motion for summary judgment of non-infringement, Judge Stark denied the motion with respect to two patents-in-suit, but granted it with respect to a third patent. That third patent, the ’031 patent, had been asserted earlier in the case, but the plaintiff dropped the asserted claims of the ’031 patent in response to the Court’s order to reduce the number of asserted claims to fifteen. The plaintiff argued that the Court could not grant summary judgment over unasserted claims “because the Court does not have jurisdiction over claims that have been voluntarily withdrawn.” Judge Stark noted, however, that the “parties have failed to come to an agreement regarding a stipulation of dismissal of the ’031 patent claims, so the Court believes it still has jurisdiction over claims relating to this patent. As there is no evidence to support a finding of infringement of the ’031 patent, the Court will grant summary judgment of non-infringement.” Id. at 8-9.
In Transcenic, Inc. v. Google Inc, et al., C.A. No. 11-582-LPS (D. Del. Sept. 17, 2013), Judge Leonard P. Stark construed the following disputed terms of U.S. Patent No. RE 42,289, entitled “Spatial Referenced Photographic System With Navigation Arrangement:”
“launch pad control”
“means for displaying.”
The Court adopted plaintiff’s proposed constructions with a few modifications, except where it resolved the parties’ dispute over a term and concluded that no construction was needed. See id. at 9. The Court concluded that the following terms would be given their plain and ordinary meaning: “image,” “orientation of the image,” “yaw orientation of the respective image,” and “multiple images aligned in a panorama.”
Special Master Lukoff recently considered Apple and Microsoft's request to order plaintiff to produce early surveys commissioned by one of plaintiff's experts in anticipation of issuing his expert reports. Robocast, Inc. v. Apple, Inc., et al., C.A. No. 11-235-RGA, C.A. No. 10-1055-RGA (D. Del. Sept. 18, 2013). The early surveys were conducted prior to the surveys which formed the basis of plaintiff's expert's opinions. Id. 1-2. The parties' dispute hinged on the interpretation of the phrase "the facts or data considered by the witness in forming [the opinions]," found in Rule 26(a)(2)(B)(ii). Id. at 2. Plaintiff argued that production was not required because the expert did not consider those prior surveys when reaching his conclusions, and could not have considered them since the expert deleted the earlier surveys from his computer. Id. at 2. Defendants, on the other hand, argued that under Rule 26 the expert must have considered the surveys, even based only on the similarity of all the surveys. Id at 3. Moreover, defendants argued that the term "considered," for purposes of Rule 26, has been defined by courts to mean "reviewed." Id. "As such, a review having occured, there is no question about whether the expert had 'considered' the earlier surveys." Id.
Special Master Lukoff noted that there was no reason to doubt that Plaintiff's expert deleted the prior surveys and could not remember them when drafting his expert reports. Id. However, when construing Rule 26 "using common sense," Special Master Lukoff determined that it would be "impossible to believe that an expert whose opinions are predicated upon the creation of a statistically-meaningful effort could have, in the statistical sense, completely ignored the data that had been previously collected by him." Id. at 4. Ultimately, Special Master Lukoff noted that it was a close call, but, since there was "sufficient ambiguity" as to whether the prior surveys played a role in the expert's final reports, the plaintiff was ordered to immediately produce those prior surveys (including questions and answers) to the defendants. Id. at 5-6.
Judge Andrews has issued an opinion granting Sony’s motion for summary judgment of non-infringement that Sony’s CMOS semiconductor image sensors do not infringe L-3’s U.S. Patent No. 5,541,654. The ’654 patent includes the step of a “photovoltaic element which provides electric charge” and a step of “storing electric charge.” At the Markman hearing, Judge Andrews agreed with Sony that these two steps must be accomplished by “separate and distinct” elements. L-3 Commc’ns Corp. v. Sony Corp., et al., C.A. No. 10-734-RGA, Memo. Op. at 1-3 (D. Del. Sept. 19, 2013). At the summary judgment stage, Judge Andrews found that Sony’s accused product performed these steps at a single circuit element rather than separate and distinct elements. Thus, there was no literal infringement. Id. at 10. Judge Andrews then went on to explain that a finding of equivalence under the doctrine of equivalents would “‘overtake the statutory function of the claims in defining the scope of the patentee’s exclusive rights,’ as the claim requires two elements, not one. . . . [And a] single element is the antithesis of the requirement for two separate and distinct elements.” Id. at 11.
Judge Richard G. Andrews recently issued an order granting a defendant’s motion to stay pending inter partes reexamination following the PTO’s rejection of all relevant independent claims and issuance of a Right of Appeal Notice. Riverbed Technology Inc. v. Silver Peak Systems Inc., C.A. No. 11-484-RGA (D. Del. Sept. 11, 2013). The plaintiff had indicated that it did not wish to proceed with litigation on the lone asserted patent that was not subject to the reexamination proceeding. As Judge Andrews explained, “[w]ithout going into great detail, simplification favors a stay.” The Court added that while the plaintiff would be prejudiced by a stay because the parties are competitors, the prejudice would not be undue.
In a recent order, Judge Richard G. Andrews granted plaintiff’s Motion for Award of Damages and Attorney’s Fees (“the Motion”) in part and awarded plaintiff damages and costs totaling $58,105. Parallel Networks, LLC v. Outspark, Inc., C.A. No. 13-181-RGA (D. Del. Sept. 10, 2013). Judge Andrews did not award attorney’s fees. Id. Prior to the filing of plaintiff’s Motion, Judge Andrews had entered default judgment against defendant. (D.I. 17.)
In a recent memorandum opinion, Judge Sue L. Robinson denied plaintiff’s motion for reargument pursuant to Local Rule 7.1.5 regarding claim construction and related summary judgment holdings for U.S. Patent No. RE 39,231 (“the ‘231 Patent”). MobileMedia Ideas, LLC v. Apple, Inc., C.A. No. 10-258-SLR-MPT (D. Del. Sept. 5, 2013). Specifically, plaintiff asserted that “given the rules of claim construction, [the court’s] constructions essentially read out the subject matter of asserted dependent claim 2,” and reargument was therefore warranted. Id. at 5. Denying plaintiff’s motion for reargument, Judge Robinson explained that plaintiff “seeks reargument solely on the basis that the court made an error not of reasoning but of apprehension; it asserts that such an error arose when the court construed claim 12 to exclude the subject matter of dependent claim 2.” Id. at 6. Judge Robinson noted that “the court considered the relationship between claims 12 and 2.” Id. Judge Robinson further explained that the “grounds asserted for reargument merely constitute [plaintiff’s] disagreement with the court’s conclusions and rehash [plaintiff’s] claim construction and summary judgment arguments.” Id. Plaintiff did not identify “any change in law, new evidence, or error in apprehension.” Judge Robinson thus denied plaintiff’s motion for reargument regarding the ‘231 Patent. Id.
Judge Robinson then noted that “the court recognizes that its intention may be subject to misinterpretation and, as such, will clarify its summary judgment memorandum opinion and order regarding the ‘231 patent.” Id. Regarding the construction of claim 2, Judge Robinson explained “the limitation ‘to change a volume of the generated alert sound’ [from independent claim 12] is not interchangeable with, or encompassing of, ‘to stop the sound’ [from dependent claim 2]. The specification of the ‘231 patent does not disclose a device with the option of either stopping an alert sound or changing its volume.” Id. at 7. Judge Robinson further noted that “[t]he fact that, on reexamination, the patentee did not follow normal drafting protocol to make the new independent claims inclusive of some of the dependent claims - as opposed to those dependent claims being narrower and in alternative form - is not a problem the court can remedy.” Id. at 8.
Judge Robinson Construes Terms of Fuel Tax Patent, Grants Summary Judgment of Noninfringement of Certain Claims
We previously reported on Judge Robinson’s decision to preclude an untimely invalidity theory in Vehicle IP v. Werner Enterprises. On the same day as that decision, Judge Robinson also issued rulings on claim construction and summary judgment, including a ruling that the defendant’s motion for summary judgment of invalidity was moot given the court’s preclusion decision. The patent-in-suit relates to methods and systems for automatically determining the fuel taxes owed to various states by a truck owner whose trucks travel on those states’ roads. Judge Robinson first construed the following terms of the patent-in-suit:
- “Determine a tax in response to the distance traveled by the vehicle within the region”
- “Determining the tax in each [of the two] taxing region[s] in response to the predetermined vehicle positions”
- “Position fix[es]”
- “Generating geographic information”
- “Generating a table” / “referencing a table”
Vehicle IP, LLC v. Werner Enterprises, Inc., C.A. No. 10-503-SLR, Memo. Op. at 13-34 (D. Del. Sept. 9, 2013).
Judge Robinson then considered cross motions for summary judgment of infringement and noninfringement of two asserted claims. Whether Judge Robinson could grant summary judgment for these claims turned on whether the accused system calculated taxes owed “without the need for any human intervention.” Because the “court’s construction differ[ed] from both parties’ proposed constructions and, given the complexity of the accused system, the court [could not] determine at the summary judgment stage” that this was the way the accused system operated. With respect to several other claims, however, Judge Robinson found that there was sufficient factual information to determine that the accused system did not “directly use predetermined vehicle position information.” She therefore granted summary judgment of noninfringement with respect to those claims. Id. at 40-44.