In Arcelormittal France v. AK Steel Corp., C.A. No. 10-050-SLR (D. Del. Aug. 25, 2011), plaintiffs unsuccessfully moved for JMOL on invalidity and for a new trial. Id. at 18. Plaintiffs' motion for JMOL focused on (1) whether a particular prior art reference qualified as a printed publication, (2) whether that reference disclosed all limitations of the asserted patent, and (3) whether there was a motivation to combine that reference with other asserted prior art references. Id. at 5. After finding that the jury's verdict of anticipation and obviousness was supported by substantial evidence, Judge Robinson rejected plaintiffs' multiple arguments in support of their motion for a new trial. Id. at 11. For example, although "[p]laintiffs argue[d] that defendants' experts improperly testified about two . . . prior art references," the court found that (1) "plaintiffs never objected to this testimony at trial and, therefore, arguments pertaining to said testimony are waived" and (2) "even if objections to said testimony had been preserved, the testimony was merely explanatory in nature, and gave context for defendants' experts' understanding of the level of skill in the art." Id. at 12-13. Thus, "even if the experts' testimony was beyond the scope of the expert report, the error was harmless." Id. at 14. Because the court denied both of plaintiffs' motions, Judge Robinson denied defendants' JMOL of noninfringement as moot. Id. at 18.
Judge Robinson: Do Not Violate the Cardinal Rule That Evidence Not Vetted During Discovery Cannot Be Used at Trial
In Belden Technologies Inc. v. Superior Essex Communications LP, C.A. No. 08-63-SLR (D. Del. Aug. 12, 2011), a patent infringement case involving high performance data cables, Judge Robinson recently issued a memorandum opinion deciding several post-trial motions, including plaintiffs' and defendants' motions for JMOL and plaintiffs' motion for a permanent injunction. Id. at 1. Although Judge Robinson upheld most of the jury's verdict as supported by substantial evidence and thus denied most of the plaintiffs' and defendants' requested relief, each motion for JMOL was granted-in-part. Id. at 40.
First, the court found that "defendants presented an obviousness defense at trial based on the knowledge of one of skill in the art, which evidence was not vetted during discovery and to which plaintiffs objected." Id. at 13. In doing so, "defendants violated the cardinal rule of this court's trial practice, that is, evidence not vetted during discovery cannot be used at trial." Id. Thus, Judge Robinson held that "the court will retry the invalidity of [this claim], at defendants' expense and precluding their use of the knowledge of one of ordinary skill in the art to support their invalidity defense. Id. at 14.
Second, the court found that one of the asserted claims was rendered obvious as a matter of law by the combination of two prior art patents, stating that the secondary considerations of non-obviousness proffered by the plaintiffs were insufficient to preclude the court's obviousness finding. Id. at 28. The court noted that "plaintiffs cite no testimony as to whether $3 million, a small fraction of the $140 million in sales of cables with separators, is significant to constitute a 'commercial success' in the patent validity context." Id. Further, "plaintiffs failed to show a nexus between the commercial success and [the asserted claim]"; "[g]iven plaintiffs' admitted status as a 'market leader' for high speed communication cables . . . , sales are easily attributed to their leadership position and successful marketing campaigns." Id.
Finally, the court denied plaintiffs' motion for a permanent injunction, finding that "plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate irreparable injury, as well as the inadequacy of money damages[,]" and "any hardship to plaintiffs would be outweighed by that to defendants." Id. at 39-40.
Judge Robinson: Order for Sanctions Modified Where Counsel Focused Deposition Efforts on Creating Record for Motion for Sanctions Instead of Obtaining Substantive Information
In Apeldyn Corp. v. AU Optronics, Inc., C.A. No. 08-568-SLR (D. Del. Aug. 2, 2011), Judge Robinson recently modified Special Master Poppiti's order for sanctions against a party that failed to adequately prepare its Rule 30(b)(6) designees for their depositions. Id. at 3-4. Although Judge Robinson "agree[d] generally with the fact that AUO's corporate designees were inadequately prepared," she found that "Apeldyn's counsel focused their efforts to create a record for the motion it ultimately presented, rather than in obtaining the substantive information noticed." Id. at 3. Thus, the court ordered AUO "to produce one or more substitute witnesses[,]" but held that the deposition must be limited "to the ten most important [noticed] topics (as identified by Apeldyn)[,]" that the "continued deposition shall be limited to ten hours[,]" and that "Apeldyn shall be responsible for its own costs and fees in connection with the deposition[.]" Id. at 4.
Defendant moved to amends its affirmative defenses and counterclaims to add two new theories of inequitable conduct (both concerning allegations that the applicants concealed or misrepresented the true inventorship of pending claims to the PTO) over six months after the deadline for amendment of the pleadings and after the close of fact discovery. Ashahi Glass Co., Ltd. v. Guardian Indus. Corp., C.A. No. 09-515-SLR, Memo. Op. (D. Del. Aug. 8, 2011). Defendant's delay was "largely unexplained" and the Court found that although the delay "is not egregious, allowing defendant's motion at this late stage would place an unwarranted burden on the court and prejudice plaintiffs in several respects, most notably, opening discovery for the purpose of allowing plaintiffs and opportunity to respond to the new claims cannot be accomplished while maintaining the current trial date." Id. at 6. Court, therefore, denied the motion.
Of note, Judge Robinson mentioned in a footnote that the Court is currently booked for trials through 2013 and therefore rescheduling a trial in 2011 or 2012 "would be a formidable task." Id. at 6, n.10.
Judge Robinson denied Ruckus Wireless' motion to tranfer this patent infringement case to the Northern District of California where another suit (on different, unrelated patents) is pending between the parties. Netgear, Inc. v. Ruckus Wireless, Inc., C.A. No. 10-999-SLR, Memo. Order (D. Del. July 28, 2011). Both parties are Delaware corporations with their principal place of business in California. Therefore the main issue was whether the pending action in California was "related" to the pending Delaware action and therefore warranted transfer. Id. The asserted patents in the Delaware case "originated from different companies, have different inventors, and are of different patent families from patents-in-suit." Id. The Court found the fact that similar technology was at issue "not compelling" to warrant transfer. Id.
In Somaxon Pharms., Inc. v. Par Pharm., Inc., C.A. No. 11-107-SLR (D. Del. July 28, 2011), defendant asserted counterclaims seeking declaratory judgment of invalidity and non-infringement of the patent-in-suit and six unasserted patents covering the drug at issue. Id. at 3. Plaintiffs provided defendant with a covenant not to sue on the six unasserted patents and requested defendant to dismiss its counterclaims as to the unasserted patents. Id. Judge Robinson granted plaintiffs’ motion to dismiss. “[T]he covenants not to sue address the Unasserted Patents in their entirety. There is no case or controversy regarding those patents because the covenant not to sue removes the original subject matter jurisdiction of the court.” Id. at 5.
Judge Robinson: Post-Trial Motion for Reargument Denied Where Defendant Sought to Rely on Summary Judgment Record
In S.O.I.TEC Silicon on Insulator Technologies, S.A. v. MEMC Electronic Materials, Inc., C.A. No. 08-292-SLR (D. Del. July 13, 2011), Judge Robinson decided several post-trial motions, including the defendant's motion for reargument on inequitable conduct. Id. Although the defendant "was scheduled to present its inequitable conduct case to the court following the jury trial[,]" it "did not subpoena any witnesses to call at the bench trial[,]" claiming that its only two witnesses "were adverse and outside of the court's subpoena power." Id. at 10-11. Rather, the defendant "sought to proceed . . . by tendering a box of exhibits and an exhibit list to the court[.]" Id. at 11. The defendant "argued that the court's holding on summary judgment was that [the defendant] had adduced facts from which an intent to deceive could be inferred . . . , and argues post-trial that the law of the case doctrine dictates that the court's summary judgment holding should not have been disturbed." Id. Judge Robinson rejected this argument for two reasons. First, "the court's finding the existence of a genuine issue of material fact on intent is not akin to the court's ruling in [the defendant's] favor on that issue." Id. Second, noting the Court's long-standing guidelines regarding admission of documents and deposition excerpts, Judge Robinson stated that the Court "determined that judgment should be entered in favor of [the plaintiff] because [the defendant] could not move the entry of any evidence absent the aid of witnesses." Id. at 11-12. In short, the defendant "did not seek to participate in a live trial, rather, it simply sought judgment on its proffered box of documents." Id. at 12.
In Eon Corp. IP Holdings LLC v. FLO TV Inc., C.A. No. 10-812-SLR (D. Del. July 12, 2011), Judge Robinson recently evaluated the sufficiency of plaintiff’s patent infringement claims under Twombly and Iqbal. Judge Robinson found that plaintiff’s direct infringement claims passed muster. Id. at 5. Plaintiff’s indirect infringement claims, however, did not fare as well. Plaintiff alleged that “users of defendants’ subscription units commit the requisite acts of direct infringement required for indirect infringement liability[,]” and that “defendants knew or should have known of the [patent-in-suit] before the infringing acts occurred because some of defendants entered into licensing agreements with a third party and obtained rights to two patents that cite the [patent-in-suit] as prior art[.]” Id. at 6. Judge Robinson found that plaintiff did not allege sufficient facts to allow the court to infer that defendants had knowledge of the patent-in-suit, because “the link between the [patent-in-suit] and defendants involved in licensing agreements with a third party is too tenuous to sustain an allegation of knowledge.” Id. at 7-8. Plaintiff’s joint infringement claims failed because its complaint “did not provide specific facts explaining any alleged relationships among defendants,” or that “any defendant  exercise[ed] ‘control or direction’ over the allegedly infringing acts of other parties.” Id. at 12.
Judge Robinson: Motion to Dismiss Patent Suit Denied Where Claim Construction Is Necessary to Resolve Dispute
In Internet Media Corp. v. Hearst Newspapers, LLC, C.A. No. 10-690-SLR (D. Del. June 28, 2011), Judge Robinson denied the defendant's motion to dismiss a patent infringement suit because the defendant's argument would require construction of an asserted claim. Id. at 7. The defendant argued that the complaint should be dismissed because the asserted patent "is indefinite as a matter of law[.]" Id. at 4. "Specifically, defendant argues that claim one is a means-plus-function claim relating to the use of computers, thus requiring that the specification disclose an algorithm by which the computer performs the recited function." Id. The "[d]efendant argues that the court need not construe the asserted claim and must simply look to the specification to see if an algorithm is disclosed." Id. at 6. The court, however, found that "[s]ome degree of claim construction is necessary to determine if the apparent means-plus-function claim is actually a means-plus-function claim, or if the claim itself recites enough structure to overcome the presumption of 35 U.S.C. § 112 ¶ 6." Id. at 7. Further, "the court would need to construe the claim in order to determine what algorithm to look for in the specification and what elements are necessary in said algorith to satisfy § 112 ¶ 6." Id. Thus, because claim construction "is properly reserved for summary judgment[,]" Judge Robinson denied the defendant's motion to dismiss. Id.
In OSI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc., C.A. No. 09-185-SLR (D. Del. June 30, 2011), Judge Robinson recently issued an order enjoining an ANDA defendant "from launching its generic drug until the court's decision issues" because the stipulated post-trial briefing schedule would exceed "what the court estimates to be the expiration of the 30-month stay invoked by operation of the filing of this lawsuit[.]" Id.