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Judge Robinson denies early Rule 11 motion, but cautions plaintiff that the court will entertain renewed motion after claim construction

Judge Sue. L. Robinson recently considered an early Rule 11 motion filed by several defendants in HBAC Matchmaker Media, Inc. v. CBS Interactive Inc., et al., C.A. Nos. 13-428, 13-430, 13-433, 13-434, 13-435, 13-437, 13-438 (D. Del. Nov. 18, 2013). Prior to filing the motion, defendants wrote plaintiff requesting that it withdraw its claims because the complaints accused websites, whereas the patents-in-suit were directed to “targeted advertising in the context of television and radio.” Id. at 2. At the Rule 16 scheduling conference, Judge Robinson asked the plaintiff to provide the court for in camera review the materials it relied upon in performing its pre-filing investigation. Id. Plaintiff submitted emails prior to the filing date evidencing that plaintiff reviewed press articles on the use of targeting advertising at issue in the claims. Id. at 4. Plaintiff also submitted emails discussing the patents and alleged infringement, claim charts which were the subject of pre-suit emails, and evidence that plaintiff used tools to analyze network traffic between a viewer’s computer and defendants’ servers. Id.

Defendants argued that plaintiff’s “conclusory” assertions that it had a reasonable basis for finding infringement were insufficient because “plaintiff’s purported infringement theory include[d] no code comparison whatsoever” and plaintiff provided no “details regarding [its] infringement analysis or underlying claim construction positions regarding the code comparison and instructions/commands limitations.” Id. at 3-4.

Judge Robinson denied defendants’ motion, declining to “engage in a claim construction exercise” at this early point in the case. Id. at 4. But, Judge Robinson noted that “plaintiff may well be stretching the meaning of two older patents (clearly directed at television and radio),” and cautioned the plaintiff that it would entertain a renewed Rule 11 motion and/or an attorneys’ fees motion under 35 U.S.C. § 285 after discovery and claim construction is completed. Id. at 5. Judge Robinson also stated that the court might permit early claim construction of “dispositive limitations” after the parties exchange “fundamental documents.” Id.

HBAC Matchmaker Media, Inc. v. CBS Interactive Inc., et al., C.A. Nos. 13-428, 13-430, 13-433, 13-434, 13-4…

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