In an order dated April 8, 2011, after learning that the 30 month stay in the case was reaching its end, Judge Sue L. Robinson issued a sua sponte injunction of several generic defendants that prohibits the defendants from launching generic versions of the drug at issue until the court issues its opinion in the case. In Re Cyclobenzaprine Hydrochloride Extended Release Capsule Patent Litigation, C.A. No. 09-MD-2118-SLR, Order (D. Del. April 8, 2011).
In a recent opinion, District Judge Sue L. Robinson commented on the nature of expert testimony in patent cases. In particular, the Court highlighted the important distinction between scientific "truth" and the role of the judiciary in the decidedly non-scientific legal system:
"[Expert] Matzger's testimony is, of course, only reliable to the extent [Expert] Bates's data (and Bates's testimony thereupon) is also reliable. That two scientists at the top of their field could disagree on their reading of 'hard' data is, unfortunately, neither surprising nor a rare occurrence in this court. The court is not tasked with determining the scientific 'truth' with respect to infringement, to the extent one exists, only weighing the parties' evidence and resolving their business dispute according to established burdens of proof. Consequently, the court does not deem Bates's evidence more or less credible insofar as Matzger also relied upon it but ultimately disagreed as to its import."
For those of you interested in the Court's findings in the companion infringement action, click here.
Judge Robinson recently issued an opinion following a bench trial in Medtronic v. Boston Scientific Corp., C.A. No. 07-823-SLR (Mar. 30, 2011). This was a declaratory judgment action by plaintiff Medtronic, Inc.
One interesting aspect of the case was the way that the parties treated the burden of proof regarding infringement. The parties each argued that the other side bore the burden due to the procedural nature of the case (a declaratory judgment action). The patentee (defendant) argued that the alleged infringer (plaintiff) had the burden of proof on non-infringement because "the plaintiff usually has the burden of proof," and because prior agreements between the parties overrode caselaw that says that the patentee always bears the burden of proof. Id. at 16-17. Judge Robinson, however, held that "'[t]he burden is always on the patentee to show infringement,'" and the burden never shifts to the other party. Id. at 17. Thus, the patentee defendants bore the burden of proving non-infringement.
The patentee's expert, however, had focused only on rebutting the plaintiff's expert's allegations of non-infringement, rather than setting forth his own allegations of infringement. Judge Robinson held that the plaintiff had therefore failed to offer affirmative evidence that all limitations of the patents at issue were met by the accused products, either literally or through the doctrine of equivalents, and found that the defendant had failed to show infringement.
Judge Robinson: Defendant’s motion for summary judgment of noninfringment GRANTED and motion for summary judgment of invalidity GRANTED-IN-PART
In Automated Transactions LLC v. 7-Eleven, Inc. et al., C.A. No. 06-043-SLR (D. Del. March 9, 2011), Judge Robinson recently decided defendants and plaintiff’s cross motions for summary judgment. Judge Robinson granted defendants’ summary judgment motion because she construed the terms “internet” and “an internet interface” to require connection to a public network. Id. at 9-15. Because the accused products utilized a private network and did not connect to the internet, defendants did not infringe the patents in suit. Id. Judge Robinson found that defendants could not infringe literally or under the doctrine of equivalents because “construing ‘Internet’ to mean any network [public or private] would read the limitation out of the patent.” Id. at 12 (emphasis in original). Moreover, a finding that the private network was the equivalent of the Internet would read on prior art thereby violating the ensnarement doctrine. Id. at 13. Judge Robinson also granted-in-part defendants’ summary judgment motion on invalidity because the term “an Internet interface” in the mean’s plus function claims “d[id] not provide sufficient structure for performing the function of providing the customer with access to the Internet in order to complete the retail transaction.” Id. at 20.
Two days ago, in Minkus Electronic Display Systems Inc. v. Adaptive Micro Systems LLC, Civ. No. 10-666-SLR (D. Del. Mar. 16, 2011), Judge Robinson granted Defendants' motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim, limiting Plaintiff's damages as to each Defendant unless Plaintiff amends its complaint to allege facts lacking in its original complaint. Id. at 7.
Plaintiff alleged that Defendants had directly infringed, contributorily infringed, and actively induced infringement of its patent disclosing a remotely-controlled electronic display system. Id. at 2-3. Defendants argued that Plaintiff had failed to satisfy the pleading requirements for indirect infringement because, inter alia, Plaintiff failed to allege facts sufficient to establish Defendants' knowledge and intent to indirectly infringe. Id. at 4. The court agreed, finding that Plantiff's pleading "resorts to a mere recitation of the elements for indirect infringement, which is insufficient." Id. at 7 (quoting Xpoint Techs. v. Microsoft Corp., 730 F. Supp. 2d 349, 357 (D. Del. 2010)).
Judge Robinson noted that, because Defendants "will be deemed to have knowledge of [Plaintiff's] patent as of the date the complaint was filed," and because "the only consequence (I believe) of this decision is limiting plaintiff's damages to the period dating from a defendant's first knowledge of [Plaintiff's] patent, the court will so limit plaintiff's damages as to each defendant unless plaintiff chooses to amend its complaint to allege sufficient facts as to an individual defendant's knowledge." Id. at 7.
In a recent decision, District Judge Sue L. Robinson explained her practice on adjudicating post-trial equitable claims. The Court noted that it "does not entertain motions for summary judgment on equitable issues, instead holding bench trials on such issues." In the underlying action, Defendant Pylon had filed its summary judgment motion on inequitable conduct following a jury trial on infringement and invalidity. According to the Court, "although Pylon styles its post-trial paper as a 'motion,' in reality Pylon has simply filed its post-trial brief in support of its claim of unenforceability." D. Del. practitioners take note.
On March 10, 2011, in Keurig Inc. v. Sturm Foods, Inc., Civ. No. 10-841-SLR (D. Del. Mar. 10, 2011), Judge Robinson issued a memorandum opinion denying Keurig's motion for a preliminary injunction and Sturm Foods's partial motion to dismiss.
Keurig had moved for a preliminary injunction based on its trademark infringement claims, trade dress infringement claims, and false advertising and unfair competition claims. Id. at 7.
Regarding the trademark infringement claims, Judge Robinson determined, based on the current record, the likelihood of confusion in the market by applying a multi-factor test previously adopted by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (modified for cases involving a nominative fair use defense), finding that the balance of factors favored Sturm Foods. Id. at 14.
Regarding the trade dress infringement claims, Judge Robinson found, based on the current record, that Keurig did not show that the overall look of its products was consistent, which is required for a finding of trade dress infringement. Id. at 17.
Regarding the false advertising and unfair competition claims, Judge Robinson found, based on the current record, that Sturm Foods's statements did not necessarily imply that Sturm Foods's products were of equal quality to Keurig's products, especially given the lower price of Sturm Foods's products. Id. at 19-20. For this and other reasons, Keurig was unable to show a likelihood of success on the merits proving the literal falsity of Sturm Foods's statements. Id. at 20.
On February 25th, 2011, in OSI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., Civ. No. 09-185-SLR (Consol.) (D. Del. Feb. 25, 2011), Judge Robinson issued a memorandum order denying Defendants’ motion for leave to amend their pleadings. While the court’s scheduling order set January 29, 2010 as the deadline to amend pleadings, id. at 1, Defendants filed their motion to amend on October 25, 2010 — almost nine months after the deadline, id. at 2. Defendants argued that “good cause” existed for their late motion, citing the volume of documents produced by Plaintiffs, the specificity required by Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b), and the “protracted discovery proceedings.” Id. Judge Robinson disagreed, noting that (1) the documents at issue had been available “well before October 2010[,]” (2) there were no citations to the depositions held in August 2010 in Defendants’ opening brief, and (3) Defendants had changed their legal argument in their letter submission. Id. at 2-3. While noting Rule 15(a)(2)’s provision that courts should “freely give leave [to amend pleadings] when justice so requires[,]” id. at 1, Judge Robinson concluded that “justice [did] not require leave to amend in this instance.” Id. at 3.
Following the recent trend in this district, Judge Robinson denied a defendant's motion to transfer litigation related to a licensing dispute, even where the current litigation is the "mirror image" of litigation pending in the Northern District California. Myriad Group A.G. v. Oracle America, Inc., C.A. No. 10-187-SLR, Memo. Order (D. Del. Feb. 4, 2011). The court found that the Jumara factors do not warrant transfer, particularly where the defendant is a Delaware corporation and "especially in this age of electronic discovery and the ever decreasing number of cases actually resolved by trial." Id. at 5.
A recent decision by District Judge Sue L. Robinson sheds light on the Court's supplemental claim-construction practice. In the underlying infringement litigation, the Court issued an opinion on, among others, the parties' proposed constructions and summary judgment motions. By doing so, the Court recognized that several disputed terms could not be addressed in the summary judgment context.
This posture allowed the Court to explain its procedure for addressing claim construction at trial:
"The parties have identified several additional disputed terms that do not find context in the infringement and validity contentions before the court on summary judgment. There is a lack of agreement as to whether the additional terms need construction or may be given their ordinary meaning. Consistent with the court's practice, the parties will present their respective constructions during trial and the court will make its claim construction decision prior to the case going to the jury."
The Court continued:
"Absent notice regarding which claims remain in dispute, the court will instruct the jury that all terms not specifically defined by the court shall be given their plain and ordinary meanings."