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Judge Robinson denies defendant’s motion for leave to amend allegations in answer

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In a recent order, Judge Sue L. Robinson denied defendant’s motion for leave to amend paragraph 19 of its answer, which responded to plaintiff’s infringement allegations regarding U.S. Patent No. 6,647,450. Cradle IP, LLC v. Texas Instruments, Inc., C.A. No. 11-1254-SLR (D. Del. May 23, 2013). In paragraph 19, defendant originally alleged that it had made, used, sold, or offered to sell microprocessor and OMAP devices “utilizing split transaction buses with target device command buffers (insofar as that phrase is given its common meaning and not necessarily the meaning that may be ascribed to it as a result of any claim construction).” Id. at 1-2. On January 23, 2013, more than two months after the deadline to amend the pleadings, defendant filed its motion for leave, seeking to change paragraph 19 such that it would state that defendant “denies that its OMAP devices utilize split transaction buses with target device command buffers.” Id. at 3. Because defendant moved to amend its answer after the deadline to amend the pleadings, Judge Robinson’s analysis was guided by both Rules 15(a)(2) and 16(b)(4) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See id. at 3-7.

With respect to Rule 15(a)(2), Judge Robinson first addressed whether defendant’s delay was undue. Id. at 4. Defendant argued that its delay would “not place an unwarranted burden on the court or [plaintiff] because it put [plaintiff] on notice of its proposed amendment before any depositions occurred and before the close of fact discovery.” Id. at 4. Judge Robinson found, however, that defendant failed to explain why it “did not seek to amend before the expiration of the deadline to amend pleadings,” and also found that the amendment was not “based on any new evidence that has emerged during discovery.” Id. at 5. Judge Robinson therefore found the delay undue “[g]iven the lack of proper justification.” Id. Judge Robinson further found that the undue delay would be prejudicial to defendant. Id. at 7. The amendment, Judge Robinson explained, “does not merely add particularity to its pleadings; it seeks to remove a qualification in its answer such that the response becomes an outright denial.” Id. at 7. Judge Robinson further explained that plaintiff “relied upon [defendant’s] answer and prepared its case in accordance with those pleadings” and that “[t]o allow [defendant] to change the landscape of the litigation at this late date would be prejudicial to [plaintiff].” Id. Given that defendant’s undue delay would result in prejudice to plaintiff, Judge Robinson found that defendant failed to satisfy Rule 15(a)(2). See id. at 6-7.

Judge Robinson additionally found that defendant failed to meet the “good cause” requirement for amendment pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 16(b)(4). Id. at 7-8. Judge Robinson noted that “the good cause standard under Rule 16(b) hinges on diligence of the movant, and not on prejudice to the non-moving party.” Id. at 7. As Judge Robinson explained, defendant failed to offer “any explanation as to why it could not reasonably meet the scheduling order’s November 1, 2012 deadline for amending the pleadings.” Id. at 8.

Cradle IP, LLC v. Texas Instruments, Inc., C.A. No. 11-1254-SLR (D. Del. May 23, 2013).

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