In Vehicle Interface Technologies, LLC v. Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC, C.A. Nos. 12-1285-RGA & 14-339-RGA (D. Del. Dec. 28, 2016), Judge Richard G. Andrews concluded that the case was exceptional, but requested additional information from the parties in order to assess the appropriate time period for calculating fees.
The Court concluded that Plaintiffs’ attempt to assert seven additional products at the close of fact discovery supported a finding that the case was exceptional due to improperly motivated litigation conduct, given that the new contentions were largely based on public information that had long been available to Plaintiffs prior to their assertion of the additional products. Id. at 4-5. The Court also found that a portion of plaintiffs’ claim construction position, in their opposition to Defendants’ motion for summary judgment of anticipation based on a certain reference, had been objectively baseless, which also supported an exceptional case finding. See id. at 5-6.
Having found the case exceptional, the Court then determined that Defendants should be awarded fees from “the date [Plaintiffs] had full notice that its case was objectively baseless in light of” that same anticipatory reference, which had been disclosed in Defendants’ initial invalidity contentions. Id. at 9. The Court concluded that, until that time, there was a reasonable basis for Plaintiffs to pursue the case. But the Court requested additional information from the parties as to “whether the invalidity contentions narrowly focused on the [key reference] as anticipatory prior art or listed it among voluminous contentions,” in order for the Court to assess “at what point after [service of those contentions Plaintiffs] should have realized that its infringement claims were objectively baseless.” Id. at 9. The Court also requested that the parties “comment upon the significance of the fact that” earlier references in discovery to (what appeared to be) the key anticipatory art differed from the Court’s references in deciding summary judgment (i.e., earlier references were “2000 Mercedes ” whereas later references were “2001 Mercedes”). Id. at 9-10.