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The United States District Court for the District of Delaware today released the following announcement:

District of Delaware Welcomes Judges Connolly and Noreika

The United States District Court for the District of Delaware is pleased to welcome the Honorable Colm F. Connolly and the Honorable Maryellen Noreika as United States District Court Judges.

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On August 1, 2018, the Senate confirmed Colm F. Connolly and Maryellen Noreika as the District of Delaware’s newest District Judges. Connolly will fill the seat vacated by the retirement of Judge Sue L. Robinson, and Noreika will fill the seat vacated by Senior Judge Gregory M. Sleet. These confirmations return the District of Delaware to a full complement of District Judges.

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Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP recently unveiled the formation of its Trade Secret and Employee Mobility practice.   Our practice is comprised of a team of intellectual property, employment, corporate, and business litigation specialists who have a wide range of experience with internal investigations, employee mobility counseling, and prosecuting and defending expedited cases in various courts in and around the Mid-Atlantic region, including the Delaware Court of Chancery, Delaware Superior Court and District Court for the District of Delaware.

The primary areas of the practice will include:

Prevention of Loss of Trade Secrets and Goodwill

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Chief Judge Stark recently was faced with a motion for final judgment under Fed. R. Civ. P. 58 following a jury verdict of induced infringement. The parties in the case agreed that the instruction given to the jury on inducement was erroneous in light of a related litigation between the same parties in which the Federal Circuit had ruled that the same instruction was erroneous. The patentee, Power Integrations, however, had not objected to the identical instruction in this case. Judge Stark, nonetheless, concluded that “in the unusual circumstances presented here its induced infringement instruction was plain error” and “it would be a manifest injustice . . . to uphold[ the] jury verdict.” Fairchild Semiconductor Corp., et al. v. Power Integrations, Inc., C.A. No. 12-540-LPS, Memo. Op. at 1-11 (D. Del. Mar. 16, 2018). Moreover, because “the Court [had] already determined that the jury instruction on active inducement was plain error that was prejudicial to Fairchild, resulting in a miscarriage of justice . . . [and] the Court [did] not believe it is highly probable that the error did not contribute to the judgment . . . [the Court therefore] order[ed] a new jury trial on the issues of induced infringement of the ’359 patent and damages.” Id. at 11-13.

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Judge Richard G. Andrews recently granted a motion for summary judgment that the asserted claims of a patented “apparatus, method and database for control of audio/video equipment” is invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101.   D&M Holdings Inc. v. Sonos, Inc., C.A. No. 16-141-RGA (D. Del. Feb. 20, 2018).  The Court agreed with the defendant that the claim at issue was “at most, directed to the automation process that can be (and has been) performed by humans,” such as when (1) a person chooses a particular DVD to watch by identifying its title, (2) the person determines, based on memory, whether he or she watched the DVD previously and, if so, whether he or she selected playback preferences, and (3) if the person recalls such playback preferences, selecting the same preferences before beginning to watch the DVD or, if no such preferences are recalled, the DVD plays with default preferences.   Id. at 8.  The Court thus viewed the asserted claim as “directed to the abstract idea of choosing to play back media with or without playback preferences.”  Further, it “provides no inventive concept, and at most merely automate[s] the abstract idea through the use of a generic, conventional technology.”  Id. at 12.

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In December 2016, a Delaware jury found that Gilead had failed to prove the asserted patent in this case was invalid and awarded damages of $2.54 billion. But Chief Judge Stark has now granted Gilead’s motion for judgment as a matter of law that the asserted claims are not enabled. Although Gilead also moved for JMOL or a new trial with respect to damages, Judge Stark denied that motion and a motion arguing that the asserted patent failed the written description requirement. Instead, Judge Stark found that because “the Structural Limitations [of the asserted claims] are satisfied by such a large number of compounds . . . the amount of experimentation to refine this broad set of compounds to those that also satisfy the Functional Limitations [of the asserted claims], given the limited teachings on this point in the patent and the state of the prior art, is an ‘undue’ amount. Thus, the only conclusion that can be reached based on the trial record is that the asserted claims . . . are invalid for lack of enablement.”Idenix Pharmaceuticals LLC, et al. v. Gilead Sciences, Inc., C.A. No. 14-846-LPS, Op. at 45-46 (D. Del. Feb. 16, 2018).

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Today the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing on the nominations of Colm F. Connolly and Maryellen Noreika to be United States District Judges for the District of Delaware, bringing the District of Delaware one step closer to returning to full strength. The nominations will next be voted on by the full Senate.

Colm Connolly is a partner with the law firm of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, where he manages the Wilmington office as a member of the firm’s litigation and intellectual property practice groups. He joined Morgan Lewis in 2009, after serving eight years as the United States Attorney for the District of Delaware. Before his confirmation as United States Attorney, Mr. Connolly spent more than two years as a partner in the Wilmington law firm Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP. Prior to joining Morris Nichols, Mr. Connolly served for seven years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Delaware and as a law clerk to Judge Walter K. Stapleton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Mr. Connolly earned his B.A., with honors, from the University of Notre Dame, his M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and his J.D., with honors, from the Duke University School of Law.

Maryellen Noreika is a partner in the Wilmington law firm of Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP where she began her career as an associate upon graduation from law school in 1993. During her 24 years at Morris Nichols, Ms. Noreika has served as counsel in more than 500 cases, while specializing in patent law, and representing parties in cases involving biotechnology, chemistry, consumer products, computer science, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals. Ms. Noreika earned her B.S. from Lehigh University, her M.A. in biology from Columbia University, and her J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Pittsburgh, where she was inducted into the Order of the Coif, and served as a member of the University of Pittsburgh Law Review.

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