Plaintiff Callaway Golf Company, argues that it was error for the Court "to remove from its final jury instructions language regarding a patent's presumption of validity." Callaway Golf Company v. Acushnet Company, C.A. No. 06-091-SLR, Memo. Op., at 15 (D. Del. April 21, 2011). Specifically, in this case, defendant's counsel argued during closing statements that the examiner spent minimal time on the large amount of references checked as reviewed during examination. Id. at 15-16. This argument was contrary to the Court's previous ruling that plaintiff could not "improper[ly] bolster[ ] the validity of the Sullivan patents by referring to the number of examiner considering those applications" or "speculate as to the extent to which such prior art was actually considered by the examiners..." Id. at 16 (internal citations omitted). The Court found that it did not commit legal error in excluding the instruction. Id. (Note: plaintiff did not object during the closing or address the statements made by defendant's counsel in its rebuttal argument.)
Last week, Judge Robinson issued on an opinion and judgment in In Re: Cyclobenzaprine Hydrochloride Extended-Release Capsule Patent Litigation, C.A. No. 09-2118-SLR (D. Del. May 12, 2011) (an ANDA case). The patents-in-suit covered an extended release version of a drug that was available in the prior art. Interestingly, the Court found the patents invalid as obvious in light of four prior art references which, even when combined, did not actually disclose all of the elements of the patent. According to the Court,
[N]ot every limitation of a claimed invention need be found in the prior art in order for said invention to be obvious. The Graham factors direct the court to look to the scope and content of the prior art, the differences between the invention and the prior art, and the level of skill of one of skill in the art. . . . . While it may be easier to prove obviousness if each limitation of the claimed invention is found in the prior art, the level of skill of one of ordinary skill in the art can, at times, fill in the gap when limitations of the claimed invention are not specifically found in the prior art.Id. at 26.
The obviousness section of the opinion included some other points of interest:
- The Court gave some weight to the fact that a person of ordinary skill would know that at least one of the elements could be "calculated by a computer program," based on Federal Circuit precedent that "'the discovery of an optimum value of a variable in a known process is usually obvious.'" Id. at 28 (citing Pfizer, Inc. v. Apotex, Inc. 480 F.3d 1348, 1368 (Fed. Cir. 2007)).
- In the Court's obviousness analysis, the fact that one of four references in an obviousness combination had not been considered by the patent office was sufficient to ease the difficulty of proving invalidity: "The court notes . . . that the '215 patent, which claims the extended release delivery system used in the patents-in-suit, was not before the PTO during examination of the '793 patent. Therefore, while defendants must still prove that the patent is obvious by clear and convincing evidence, they do not have the additional burden of overcoming the presumption that is due a qualified government agency presumed to have properly done its job. Tokai Corp. v. Easton Enters., Inc., Civ. No. 2010-1057, -F.3d -, 2011 WL 308370, at *6 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 31, 2011) (citations omitted)."
- The Court held that commercial success alone is insufficient to prove the presence of a long felt need. Id. at 31.
The Court also addressed a number of other issues, including claim construction, infringement, best mode, and inequitable conduct.
Judge Robinson: Result of Earlier Patent Infringement Case Relevant to Lost Profits and Reasonable Royalty Analysis
In Boston Scientific Corp. v. Cordis Corp., C.A. No. 10-315-SLR (D. Del. May 4, 2011), Judge Robinson recently stated that the result of an earlier patent infringement case involving the same parties, the same patent, and the same asserted claim "is relevant to both lost profits and a reasonable royalty analysis[.]" Id. at 1. However, Judge Robinson limited the introduction of evidence of the earlier case to a single statement, to be read at trial, that (1) the earlier case involved the same parties, patent, and asserted claim, (2) the jury found that the defendant's products infringed and that the claim was not invalid, and (3) that this finding was affirmed on appeal and therefore "the jury verdict and judicial determinations of infringement and validity are final." Id. at 1-2.
Judge Sue L. Robinson: Motion to Stay an ANDA case pending appeal of litigation involving the same patents GRANTED
In Cephalon, Inc. v. Sandoz Inc., C.A. No. 10-123-SLR (D. Del. May 5, 2011), an ANDA case, Cephalon filed a motion to stay pending its appeal of related litigation. In the related case, involving the same patents, the court found that the defendant did not infringe and that the patents were invalid. Id. at 2. Judge Robinson determined that a stay was appropriate because, among other things, Sandoz’s 30-month stay was set to expire in July 2012, which would likely occur after the Federal Circuit disposed of the appeal. Id. at 4. “If the Federal Circuit affirms the court’s invalidity holding, there is no reason for trial and the expenses related thereto.” Id. Judge Robinson found that Sandoz would not be prejudiced because, among other things, it could not enter the marketplace prior to July 2012. Id.
In Oracle Corp. v. Parallel Networks, LLC, C.A. No. 06-414-SLR (D. Del. Apr. 29, 2011), Judge Robinson recently issued an amended memorandum order denying both parties' motions for summary judgment. After finding that several genuine issues of material fact compelled the denial of Parallel's motion for partial summary judgment of literal infringement, the court found that "Parallel has proffered sufficient circumstantial and direct evidence [of direct infringement by Oracle customers] to withstand summary judgment as to . . . the issue of induced infringement." Id. at 28-29. This evidence included a presentation at an Oracle conference and a best practices document, both of which allegedly instructed Oracle customers "'how to use the Accused Oracle Products in an infringing manner'" and "'freely and openly strongly encourage[d] them to do so.'" Id. Judge Robinson further denied Oracle's motion as to contributory infringement, rejecting Oracle's argument that it had adequately demonstrated "that each of its accused products have significant noninfringing uses[.]" Id. In denying Oracle's motion, Judge Robinson stated that "[a] reasonable jury could find that the accused products do not meet the definition of a staple article of commerce." Id. at 29.
Last Thursday, in Boston Scientific Corp. v. Cordis Corp., Civ. No. 10-315-SLR (D. Del. Apr. 28, 2011), Judge Robinson issued a memorandum order allowing the defendant to (1) present clinical trial data as evidence, and (2) present Dr. Campbell Rogers as a fact witness.
Judge Robinson noted that the clinical trial data "may be relevant under the entire market value rule," and that excluding the data would "parse the actual story of this dispute with too broad a stroke." Id. at 1. Judge Robinson also limited Dr. Rogers's testimony regarding the clinical trial data "based upon the determination of the clinical trial data's relevance[.]" Id. at 2.
Judge Robinson: Defendant’s Motion to Stay Pending Reexamination DENIED; Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment of Infringement GRANTED; Sua Sponte Grant of Partial Summary Judgment
In Boston Scientific Corp. v. Cordis Corp., C.A. No. 10-315-SLR (D. Del. Apr. 13, 2011), a patent infringement case dealing with cardiovascular stents, Judge Robinson recently decided several motions and granted partial summary judgment sua sponte on the date of hypothetical negotiation. Judge Robinson denied the defendant's motion to stay the trial on damages and willfulness pending reexamination, finding that all of the Dentsply factors weighed against staying the litigation: (1) discovery is complete and trial is imminent, (2) "[a] final determination by the PTO could take years," (3) the request for reexamination was filed "several years after the end of the jury trial" establishing liability, (4) the motion to stay was not filed until almost a year after the request for reexamination, (5) the reexamination proceedings are still in their early stages, and (6) the parties involved are direct competitors. Id. at 7-10. The court then granted the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment of infringement, finding that the accused stent "has the same stent architecture as the [other] stents that were found to infringe" in an earlier trial. Id. at 10-12. Finally, before deciding two Daubert motions related to expert opinions on royalties, Judge Robinson granted summary judgment sua sponte on the date of hypothetical negotiation. Id. at 15, 18. The court found that although the defendant marketed infringing cardiovascular stents in 1999, the new "stent is distinct from the [architecturally equivalent] stents previously marketed by Cordis." Id. at 12-14. Thus, the marketing of the new stent "constituted a separate act of infringement" and the date of hypothetical negotiation was September 2009, the date when the new stent was first sold in the United States. Id. at 14-15.
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.