Judge Farnan recently denied plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction related to handheld mobile computers. Symbol Technologies, Inc. v. Janam Technologies LLC, C.A. No. 08-340-JJF (D. Del. July 20, 2010). Judge Farnan found that plaintiff had shown a likelihood of success on the merits that two of plaintiff’s patents-at-issue were infringed. Id. at 16-17, 29. However, Judge Farnan also found that defendant “raised a substantial question” whether claims of the patents were invalid and plaintiff failed to prove that the defense lacked “substantial merit or [was] reasonably likely to fail.” Id. at 22; see also id. at 28, 33.
In the ANDA case Sepracor Inc. v. Dey L.P. and Dey, Inc., C.A. 06-113-JJF (D. Del. July 15, 2010), Judge Farnan granted plaintiff’s motion to amend its complaint to add claims for damages after defendants began selling their generic product and to add defendants’ parent companies as parties. Although the original claims were ready for trial Judge Farnan granted plaintiffs’ request to add the parent companies because the parent companies were involved in the sale and distribution of the generic product in question. Id. at 5. Moreover, any further discovery that may be necessary would not unduly prejudice the defendants because the discovery would be limited to only the sale and distribution of the product. Id. Judge Farnan also denied defendants request to bifurcate damages from liability because the limited discovery would not cause any undue delays and there would be no danger of confusion for the jury. Id. at 7.
The Court construed the following claim terms in a case involving patented telecommunications technology:
- a “connection” or “communications connection”
- “changing over…during the existing transfer” and “changing over…without interruption of the communications connection”
- “changing over…without interruption of a setup procedure”
- “means responsive to a control signal for changing over”
- The Court found the term “[a] device that provides access by said switching apparatus [to a mobile (phone) packet-switching network/through a line-switching network] through which data packets can be sent for delivery to a destination end terminal” indefinite for reasons set forth in a separate opinion.
Sigram Schindler Beteiligungsgesellschaft mbH v. Cisco Systems, Inc., C.A. No. 09-72-SLR, Memo. Order (D. Del. July 26, 2010).
Of note, the court construed only the “most essential” terms based on the parties’ infringement contentions and deferred consideration of additional terms related to the parties’ invalidity contentions based on a stay of the merits of validity pending reexamination. Id. at 2 n.2.
Plaintiff filed a motion to dismiss a copyright infringement action over audio compression technology. Vianix LLC v. Nuance Communications, Inc., C.A. No. 09-348-JJF, Memo. Op. (D. Del. July 20, 2010). Defendant argued that plaintiff failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted because plaintiff “has not identified the specific original works” that form the basis of their claims and because it has not “identified specific acts” that are actionable as infringement. Id. at 3. The court found that plaintiff’s complaint “sufficiently pleads which specific original works are the subject of its copyright claims” because it identifies the accused works as “four computer programs, in the form of source code, embodying the MASC Technology” and lists the four copyright registrations, in addition to alleging that plaintiff provided a number of the accused works to the defendant in “object code” and that there were seven specific products since 2005 that incorporate the accused works. Id. at 7-8. The court further found that plaintiff alleged specific acts of infringement when it alleged that defendant’s “making and storing  ‘archived copies of its own products, including versions that contain Vianix’ including the Subject Works” were acts of infringement. Id. at 9.
It’s always a looming question in patent litigation – who goes first in responding to contention interrogatories and how much information must be provided? Special Master Bechtle addressed just this issue in XPoint Technologies, Inc. v. Intel Corporation, C.A. No. 09-26-SLR, Special Master Order 14 (D. Del. June 25, 2010). In this case, the parties simultaneously exchanged responses to contention interrogatories, however, defendant argued that while it provided full and complete answers to the contentions plaintiff propounded on it, that plaintiff only provided some information and then waited until after receipt of defendant’s contentions to use that information and then supplement its own responses. Id. at 2. First, Special Master Bechtle stated that although the court’s scheduling order required that responses to contention interrogatories be filed on or before a date certain, there was no requirement that the responses be exchanged simultaneously. Id. at 3. Second, the Special Master disagreed with the plaintiff’s “theory that use of the word ‘first’ and the other words by the court in ¶2(c)(3) of its scheduling order means that a party with Rule 33 interrogatory answering responsibility can answer those interrogatories by providing a partial response.” Id. at 5. Rule 33 requires that the interrogatory “be answered completely and truthfully” and “must use all of the information a party has at that time…that allows the interrogatory to be fully responded to. The plain meaning of the Rule does not allow a knowing half answer, or a knowing partial answer, or some sort of temporary response.” Id. at 6. In this case, however, the defendant did not show any harm by plaintiff’s failure to comply to warrant dismissal of the claims and issues concerning products other than those included in its original interrogatory response. Id. at 12.
In a recent transfer opinion, Judge Bartle (sitting by designation from the E.D. Pa.) granted defendant Life Technologies Corporation’s motion to transfer to the Southern District of California. Boram Pharm. Co., Ltd. v. Life Technologies Corp., C.A. No. 10-31-HB, Memo. (D. Del. July 14, 2010). This was not a case where the plaintiff’s home turf is Delaware, since Boram is a South Korean company. The court found that the “critical factors” weighing in favor of transfer in this case are the “convenience of the parties and the witnesses.” Id. at 3. Specifically, Life Technologies demonstrated that 10 key witnesses are in the Southern California and all non-party witnesses are within that court’s subpoena power. Id. Furthermore, all of the “key research, testing, development, marketing, sales, and manufacture of the Accused Products” takes place in Southern California. Id. Also, although both parties are large corporations “and by implication can afford to indulge in litigation in this, the more expensive forum, it is no reason for the court to countenance this indulgence.” Id. at 4.
Discovery disputes over the production of source code often involve thorny issues of confidentiality. But sometimes those disputes are more basic, such as when a party outright refuses to produce certain code. In a recent decision, district judge Joseph J. Farnan Jr. addressed this type of dispute, and came down in favor of production.
On the underlying motion to compel, Imagine argued that it had no obligation to produce source code relating to its future products (as opposed to current products) because "of the likelihood that the products will change before they are released" and because movant BigBand "is not entitled to any damages from the future products."
The Court dismissed this contention, noting that Rule 26's relevancy standard is broad enough to encompass BigBand's discovery request: "[S]ource code of Imagine's future products is discoverable because it is reasonably likely to lead to evidence relevant to BigBand's infringement claim."
Also see the Court's related decision on a motion to amend and motion to dismiss.
On Tuesday, Judge Farnan granted a default judgment in a patent infringement case against Medical Skin Therapy Research, Inc. ("MSTR"). Tristrata Technologies filed suit againt MSTR on October 17, 2006 - three years, nine months, and thirteen days before the entry of default judgment. In that time, MSTR appears to have made no response at all to the Court, despite correspondence with Tristata showing that it was aware of the suit. The Court granted a default judgment, but did not grant Tristrata's requested $687,000 in damages plus attorney's fees. Instead, it ordered Tristrata to submit an itemized statement of damages and the basis for the damages, so that MSTR will have an opportunity to respond.
On Tuesday, Judge Farnan issued an opinion in Enhanced Security Research, LLC v. Juniper Networks, Inc., C.A. No. 09-871-JJF (D. Del. July 20, 2010), dismissing Plaintiff's claims for lack of standing.
The question was whether the plaintiff held enough of the rights under the patent to allow it to bring a claim at all. The patent-in-suit had been transferred several times, and was subject to a 2007 "Purchase Agreement" in which Plaintiff had sold several exclusive rights under the patent to a third party, but had retained title. The Federal Circuit requires that a plaintiff or plaintiffs hold "all substantial rights" to a patent in order to bring a claim. Id. at 7-8.
Here, the Court determined that Plaintiff had transferred "all substantial rights" to the third party, including the exclusive right, as stated in the contract, to "initiate, maintain, manage, resolve, conclude and settle all arrangements and activities in connection with any and all licensing or litigation or enforcement efforts and/or Proceedings . . . relating to any of [Plaintiff]'s rights in and to any of the Patents." Id. at 8-9. Because the third party possessed "all substantial rights" relating to the patent, Plaintiff could not bring an action without the involvement of that party. Id. at 9-11. Thus, the Court granted Defendant's Motion to Dismiss.
A recent decision by district judge Joseph J. Farnan Jr. illustrates the broad scope of Rule 15's amended pleading provisions. In the underlying copyright-infringement action, Leonard sought to leave open the operative infringement date in response to negative case law raised by Stemtech during mediation. Stemtech argued that this late change in position was simply a gambit designed to avoid the limitations statute and forestall a winning summary judgment motion.
The Court acknowledged Stemtech's plight, but nonetheless permitted the amendment:
"While the circumstances cited by Stemtech give rise to the specter of bad faith, the Court concludes, at this juncture, that the inference is not strong enough to deny Leonard leave to amend . . . . [T]he deletion of specific date references from the proposed Amended Complaint will leave this issue open for further development during discovery and will preserve Stemtech's ability to defend this action on the basis of a statute of limitations defense or a defense under the case law cited by Stemtech during mediation."
By allowing Leonard to amend these crucial dates in the complaint, the Court reminded litigators that, in the absence of prejudice, Rule 15 allows parties an immense latitude in framing their claims for relief.