In a recent memorandum opinion, Chief Judge Gregory M. Sleet granted Facebook’s motion to transfer to the Northern District of California a patent case filed against it by a Canadian company and its Delaware subsidiary. Mitel Networks Corp., et al., v. Facebook, Inc., C.A. No. 12-325 (GMS) (D. Del. May 1, 2013). The Court found that only one factor under the Third Circuit’s Jumara analysis weighed in favor of keeping the case in Delaware: the plaintiff’s forum preference. The weight the Court gave that factor was diminished, however, because although the subsidiary plaintiff was incorporated in Delaware, neither plaintiff maintained any operations in Delaware. Id. at 5. Further, the Court found compelling Facebook’s argument (to which the plaintiffs did not respond during briefing) that the Canadian parent company was the real party in interest, and the Delaware subsidiary was added as a co-plaintiff only for jurisdictional purposes. Id. at 4, 6. As a result, the Court found that the plaintiffs’ “forum selection is entitled to some degree of heightened deference, but not to paramount consideration.” Id. at 6 (internal quotation marks omitted). The remaining Jumara factors weighed in favor of transfer to the Northern District of California, or were neutral. The Court therefore concluded that Facebook “met [its] burden of demonstrating that the interests of justice and convenience strongly favor transfer.” Id. at 18.
Judge Andrews recently construed the terms of U.S Patent No. 8,069,225 claiming “a transaction predictor aimed at speeding up the transmission of transactions over a network.” Riverbed Technology, Inc. v. Silver Peak Systems, Inc., C.A. No. 11-484-RGA (D. Del. May 3, 2013). Terms of the other two patents-in-suit, U.S. Patent Nos. 7,428,573 and 7,849,134, were also at issue; but the Court postponed consideration of those patents because the patents were under reexamination by the PTO. Id. at 1 n.1.
The Court construed the following terms:
“a transaction predictor”
“synthesize, based on past transactions”
“based [at least in part] on past transactions”
In a recent order, Judge Sue L. Robinson addressed a non-party’s motion to quash plaintiff’s subpoena and plaintiff’s cross-motion to compel. Cradle IP LLC v. Texas Instruments, Inc., C.A. No. 11-1254-SLR (D. Del. Apr. 29, 2013). Plaintiff had filed an action against defendant Texas Instruments, Inc. in late 2011, alleging infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 6,647,450; 6,874,049; 6,708,259. Id. at 1. In late 2012 and early 2013, plaintiff served subpoenas on a non-party, Nokia Siemen Networks US LLC (“NSN US”), seeking documents and a deposition “related to Nokia Siemens base transceiver stations that [Texas Instruments] . . . identified as incorporating certain of the accused devices.” Id. at 1. Judge Robinson granted plaintiff’s motion to compel, but only to the extent that “NSN US has an employee or representative who has knowledge of the topics identified in the subpoena; does not need to obtain documents or information from [Nokia Siemens Networks Oy] for such knowledge; and lives, works, or regularly transacts business within 100 miles of the designated place of deposition.” Id. at 8. Further, Judge Robinson directed the deposition witness, if any, “to bring responsive documents that NSN US does not need to obtain from [Nokia Siemens Networks Oy], even if such documents are not located within 100 miles of the place of deposition or production.” Id. at 8-9.
With respect to the motions before the court, the “bulk” of the disagreement between plaintiff and NSN US surrounded whether NSN US had “control” over documents or information in the possession, custody, or control of Nokia Siemens Networks Oy (“NSN Oy”)—NSN US’s Finnish sister company that was also a non-party to the action. Id. at 4. Judge Robinson noted that “control is defined as the legal right to obtain the documents required on demand,” and that the court has “declined to apply a broader definition of ‘control’ that would also include an inquiry into the practical ability of the subpoenaed party to obtain documents.” Id. at 3. To determine whether such control was present, Judge Robinson was guided by the court’s previous decision in Power Integrations, Inc. v. Fairchild Semiconductor lnt’l, Inc., 233 F.R.D. 143 (D. Del. 2005). Id. at 3-6. Judge Robinson found that the relationship between NSN US and NSN Oy was similar to the “vendor relationship” between the parties in Power Integrations: “NSN US purchases the Nokia Siemens base station transceivers that are developed by NSN Oy, a separate and distinct corporate entity.” Id. at 4, 6. Although NSN US also conceded it “maintained” the products, the Court found that insufficient “to disregard the separate and distinct corporate identity of NSN US.” Id. at 6. Judge Robinson thus concluded that “NSN has no control over documents or information that it would have to obtain from NSN Oy.” Id.
Judge Robinson, however, was “concerned with certain aspects of NSN US’s motion to quash.” Id. Judge Robinson noted that “it [was] unclear from the record” whether NSN US was in the possession, custody, or control of other information it would not be required to obtain from NSN Oy, such as “supply chain” information or information regarding “certain hardware semaphores and software.” Id. Judge Robinson further found it unclear whether “any NSN US employee or representative within the court’s territorial limits may have knowledge that is responsive to the subpoena.” Id. at 7. Accordingly, Judge Robinson granted plaintiff’s motion to compel to the extent discussed above. Id. at 8-9.
Chief Judge Gregory M. Sleet recently issued a claim construction order in Edwards Lifesciences, L.L.C., et al. v. Medtronic CoreValve, L.L.C., et al., C.A. No. 12-cv-23-GMS (D. Del. Apr. 23, 2013). The Court construed the following disputed claim terms of U.S. Patent No. 8,002,825, entitled “Implantable Prosthetic Valve for Treating Aortic Stenosis”:
-“a prosthetic valve for implantation in a stenosed aortic valve”
-“metallic frame having intersecting bars”
-“frame made with intersecting metallic bars”
-“18 French arterial introducer”
-“the frame being expandable”
-“a flexible valvular structure”
-“comprises a concave shape profile” and “shape comprising a concave profile”
-“wherein the frame is configured to be expanded by a balloon”
In a recent memorandum opinion, Chief Judge Gregory M. Sleet adopted Magistrate Judge Thynge’s report and recommendation, denying defendant’s renewed motion to stay the patent litigation proceedings pending inter partes reexamination. ImageVision.Net, Inc. v. Internet Payment Exchange, Inc., C.A. No. 12-054-GMS-MPT (D. Del. Apr. 22, 2013). In June 2012, after filing for inter partes reexamination, defendant had filed its first motion to stay. Id. at 1. Judge Sleet adopted in part the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation and denied that motion. Id. After the PTO granted defendant’s request for inter partes reexamination in December 2012, defendant filed a renewed motion to stay—the motion at issue in Judge Sleet’s recent memorandum opinion. Id. at 1-2.
First, Judge Sleet held that “the granting of an inter partes reexamination under the AlA” should not “displace the three-factor test that has been traditionally employed in assessing a motion to stay.” Id. at 5. The three-factor test, as Judge Sleet explained, “is capable of incorporating any changes resulting from the AlA.” Id. Specifically, Judge Sleet noted that to the extent defendant “focus[ed] on the more searching standard applied by the PTO in granting a reexamination request” under the AIA, the court could account for that standard pursuant to the three-factor test’s “issue simplification factor.” Id.
Having determined that application of the three-factor test was appropriate, Judge Sleet then assessed whether the magistrate judge erred in her application of that test in her report and recommendation (the “R&R”). First, with respect to prejudice to the non-moving party, Judge Sleet noted that while “delay does not, by itself, amount to undue prejudice,” Magistrate Judge Thynge properly based her finding of undue prejudice on the “potential for delay” and “the parties’ competitive relationship.” Id. at 6-7. Second, with respect to the “simplification of the issues,” defendant argued that Magistrate Judge Thynge had not given enough weight to the PTO’s grant of the reexamination request, since “[i]f . . . all claims of the [the patent-in-suit under reexamination] are invalid, then every other issue in the case will be moot.” Id. at 8-9. Judge Sleet explained that “[w]hile this may be true,” the R&R was still not in error–defendant “fail[ed] to recognize the speculative nature of its reexamination predictions, and the PTO’s published statistics [that] suggest that at least some claims will survive intact or in an amended form.” Id. at 9. Third, with respect to the “stage of the ligation,” defendant emphasized that discovery was not complete and that no exact trial date was set. Id. at 9-10. Judge Sleet explained, however, that Magistrate Judge Thynge “properly examined this factor in light of other decisions from this district and found it significant that the parties have already engaged in substantial discovery.” Id. at 10. Judge Sleet adopted the R&R, finding that Magistrate Judge Thynge’s “treatment of the three factors” was “neither clearly erroneous nor contrary to law.” Id.
In a recent memorandum order, a public version of which was released on April 19, 2013, Judge Leonard P. Stark granted a motion for summary judgment of noninfringement. Vehicle IP, LLC v. AT&T Mobility LLC, Civ. No. 09-1007-LPS (D. Del. Apr. 10, 2013). At issue was alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. 5,987,377, “Method and apparatus for determining expected time of arrival.” The defendants’ motion asserted that based on the Court’s claim construction (previously discussed here), the plaintiff could not prove infringement, either literally or under the doctrine of equivalents. Id. at 7. As the Court explained, “the ‘377 patent discloses a system and method ‘for determining an expected time of arrival of a vehicle,” and “every claim requires the determination of an ‘expected time of arrival of a vehicle at a way point[.]” Id. at 8 (emphasis added). Because the defendants’ products were not able to estimate times of arrival at intermediate way points, and instead only estimated times of arrival at final destinations, the Court found that the products could not literally infringe the ‘377 patent. Id. at 8-9.
The Court next rejected the argument that the products could be found to infringe under the doctrine of equivalents. The plaintiff argued that the defendants’ products, which were capable of calculating a “remaining travel time” to intermediate way points, infringe the ‘377 patent because the “‘remaining travel time’ format is insubstantially different from a ‘time of day’ format.” Id. at 9. The Court agreed with the defendants though, that infringement under the doctrine of equivalents could not be proved without impermissibly “vitiat[ing] the negative limitation – ‘and not remaining travel time’ . . . .” Id. at 10. In short, Judge Stark explained that “no reasonable juror could conclude that ‘remaining travel time’ is equivalent to the ‘expected time of arrival’ limitation” given the Court’s claim construction. Id.
In a recent memorandum opinion, Chief Judge Gregory M. Sleet denied defendant’s amended motion to transfer venue of this patent infringement action to the Middle District of Florida. Devicor Medical Products, Inc. v. Biopsy Sciences, LLC, C.A. No. 10-1060-GMS (D. Del. Apr. 15, 2013). Plaintiff is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Ohio, and defendant is a Florida corporation with its principal place of business in Clearwater, Florida. Id. at 3.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), Judge Sleet first determined that the suit could have been properly brought in the Middle District of Florida, as defendant’s principal place of business is in Clearwater, Florida. Id. at 4. Next, Judge Sleet considered the private interest Jumara factors. Because plaintiff is a Delaware corporation but is not physically located in Delaware, its forum choice weighed against transfer and was given “heightened but not maximum weight.” Id. at 6. Defendant’s preference to litigate in Florida weighed in favor of transfer. Id. With respect to whether the infringement “claims arose elsewhere,” defendant argued that it did not commit any direct acts of infringement in the District of Delaware. Id. at 7. Judge Sleet found, however, that defendant acknowledged its “distributors had sold the accused products in Delaware,” which could establish the basis for “alleged acts of indirect infringement.” Id. Judge Sleet therefore determined that factor was neutral. Id. at 7-8. Because neither party had a physical presence in Florida and because transfer would at least save defendant “the inconvenience and expense of litigating in a distant forum,” Judge Sleet found the convenience of the parties weighed in favor of transfer. Id. at 9. With respect to the convenience of the witnesses, “neither party . . . pointed to a single witness who [would] be unavailable for trial in either Delaware or Florida,” and Judge Sleet accordingly considered that factor to be neutral. Id. Because all of defendant’s books and records were maintained in Florida, Judge Sleet found the location of the books and records to weigh “slightly in favor of transfer.” Id. at 9-10.
Judge Sleet noted that the “parties appear[ed] to agree that several of the public interest factors [were] inapplicable to or neutral in the transfer analysis.” Id. at 10. However, Judge Sleet did consider the “local interest in deciding local controversies at home.” Id. at 10-11. Defendant argued that the “Middle District of Florida has a greater interest in litigation involving claims of patent infringement against one of its residents than does [the District of Delaware].” Id. at 10. Judge Sleet rejected defendant’s position, noting that “patent infringement actions are more properly viewed as national rather than local controversies.” Id. at 10-11. Further, with respect to the “public policies of the fora,” defendant argued that public policies supported the Middle District of Florida overseeing the matter. Id. at 11. Judge Sleet found, however, that defendant failed to provide support for its conclusory allegation. Id.
Judge Sleet found that defendant failed to meet “its heavy burden of establishing that the balance of convenience tips strongly in favor of transfer,” and defendant’s motion was thus denied. Id. at 11-12.
In Warner Chilcott Company, LLC v. Zydus Pharmaceuticals (USA) Inc., et al., C.A. No. 11-1105-RGA (D. Del. Apr. 22, 2013), Judge Richard G. Andrews construed the following disputed terms of U.S. Patent No. 6,893,662, which “relates to formulations and methods of delivering mesalamine to the lowest part of the gastrointestinal tract, especially the colon,” id. at 1:
-“Inner coating layer” and “outer coating layer,” id. at 3-4;
-“The inner coating layer is not the same as the outer coating layer,” id. at 5-7;
-“Selected from the group consisting of,” id. at 7-10;
-“Polymethacrylates” and “anionic polymethacrylates,” id. at 10-12;
-“Poly(methacrylic acid, methyl methacrylate) 1:2” and “poly(methacrylic acid,
methyl methacrylate) 1:1” id. at 12-14;
-“Enteric polymer,” id. at 14-15;
-“Mixtures,” id. at 15-17; and
-“The outer coating layer is applied after the inner coating layer but before the inner
coating layer is dried or cured,” id. at 17-18.
Magistrate Judge Christopher Burke has issued a memorandum order in a patent infringement case referred to him for pretrial purposes by Chief Judge Gregory Sleet. Judge Burke considered and granted a motion by the plaintiff, filed on the deadline for amendment of pleadings, for leave to file a first amended complaint, adding a subsidiary of the existing defendant as an additional defendant. See Invensas Corp. v. Renesas Elecs. Corp., C.A. No. 11-448-GMS-CJB, Memorandum Order at 1 (D. Del. Apr. 24, 2013).
The parent-defendant, Renesas, argued that plaintiff had delayed in adding the subsidiary, REA. Judge Burke, however, agreed with plaintiffs that there had been no undue delay because “until very close to the deadline for amendment, there had not been a reason or motivation for it to seek to add REA . . . [because plaintiff] felt that it would be uncontested that any sales-related activity conducted by REA as to Renesas’ products in the United States would be activity attributable to Renesas.” Id. at 4-5. After Renesas appeared to assert “the legal theory that REA is a separate entity from Renesas, and that any sales-related activity of REA may not be attributed to its parent,” plaintiff claimed that it filed its motion “in an ‘abundance of caution’ and ‘to ensure that the proper Renesas entities are named in the action.’” In this situation, Judge Burke found that there was no undue delay in filing the motion. Id. at 5-6. Judge Burke also pointed out that “[t]he fact that the Motion was filed within [the] deadline [set by the Scheduling Order for the filing of proposed amendments to pleadings], one agreed to by both parties, strongly supports a conclusion that the amendment was not untimely filed (and, relatedly, that its filing will not work to unfairly prejudice Renesas).” Id. at 6-7.
Judge Burke further found that the risk of prejudice to defendants was minimal, as discovery was ongoing, no trial date had been set, the proposed amendment added no new theories of liability and added only a wholly owned subsidiary of an existing party which would be represented by the same outside counsel as its corporate parent. Under these circumstances, Judge Burke found, “it is reasonable to expect that REA can be integrated into the case without creating significant additional harm to the parties’ pre-trial preparations.” Id. at 7-8.
Judge Andrews recently issued an order in regard to a discovery dispute over whether plaintiff had to produce communications with a Canadian attorney, formerly employed by plaintiff as its Director of Business Development. Robocast, Inc. v. Apple, Inc., C.A. No. 11-235-RGA (D. Del. April 17, 2013). Judge Andrews held that plaintiff failed “to make a showing that [the attorney] was an individual authorized to give legal advice.” Id. at 2. The Canadian attorney was not a member of the bar of New York, where he was employed by plaintiff, nor was he licensed by the bar of New York to render legal advice as a legal consultant. Id. (citing N.Y.C.L.S. Ct. of App. § 521.1). Therefore, the communications could not be assumed to be privileged. “In fact, the very argument that [the attorney] offered legal advice to [plaintiff] without the New York State Bar’s approval necessarily asserts he was guilty of practicing law without a license, which is a criminal misdemeanor in New York.” Id.