District Court Orders Production of Attorney-Client Communications Between Opinion Counsel and Trial Counsel Based on Advice of Counsel Defense

January 17, 2017

Plaintiff Krausz Industries Ltd. ("Krausz") filed a motion for an order compelling Defendants Smith-Blair, Inc. and Sensus USA, Inc. (collectively "Smith-Blair") to allow discovery into various attorney-client communications and work product related to an advice of counsel defense.

Although the parties agreed that raising an advice of counsel defense can result in a waiver of the attorney-client privilege and work product doctrine, the parties disagreed about the scope of the waiver. Smith-Blair asserted that any waiver should be limited to communications and related work product between Smith-Blair and its opinion counsel on the issue of noninfringement that occurred before litigation began.

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District Court Denies Motion to Withdraw Deemed Admissions

January 10, 2017

The plaintiff filed an ex parte application to be relieved of admissions that were deemed admitted for failure to respond.

In analyzing the ex parte application, the district court first concluded that the plaintiff had not justified the filing of an ex parte application rather than a noticed motion. "Plaintiff has not shown Plaintiff's 'case will be irreparably prejudiced if the underlying motion is heard according to regular noticed motion procedures.' Mission Power, 883 F. Supp. at 492. To the contrary, there is no mention anywhere in the Application or supporting declaration that there is any crisis or emergency warranting ex parte relief, nor does it appear to the Court that Plaintiff's case would be 'irreparably prejudiced' if the underlying motion were heard according to regular noticed motion procedures. Moreover, to the extent there is any crisis, Plaintiff has not shown it is 'without fault in creating the crisis that requires ex parte relief, or that the crisis occurred as a result of excusable neglect.' Id. "

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District Court Denies Motion to Stay Pending Ex Parte Reexamination Where Defendant Did Not Pursue Inter Partes Review

January 3, 2017

After filing an ex parte reexamination with the Patent Office, the defendant filed a motion to stay the action pending the ex parte reexamination.

In analyzing the request to stay the action, the district court noted that "[t]he decision of whether to stay this case during the potential ex parte reexamination is discretionary." The district court also explained that courts have inherent power to manage their dockets, including by ordering a stay during a patent reexamination. See Ethicon, Inc. v. Quigg, 849 F.2d 1422, 1426-27 (Fed. Cir. 1988). Other cases in this district have considered, in deciding whether to stay a case pending patent reexamination or review, "(1) whether discovery is complete and whether a trial date has been set; (2) whether a stay will simplify the issues in question and trial of the case; and (3) whether a stay would unduly prejudice or present a clear tactical disadvantage to the nonmoving party." Telemac Corp. v. Teledigital, Inc., 450 F. Supp. 2d 1107, 1111 (N.D. Cal. 2006); see In re Cygnus Telecomms. Tech., LLC, Patent Litig., 385 F. Supp. 2d 1022, 1023 (N.D. Cal. 2005).

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Personal Web v. IBM: IBM's Motion to Compel Documents from Privilege Log Denied Where Motion Was Filed After Discovery Cut-Off

December 29, 2016

In this patent infringement action, IBM filed a motion to compel production of certain documents that were withheld as privileged. IBM contend that time was of the essence when it filed its motion.

The district court was not persuaded by the urgency of the request or that time "was of the essence" because the motion was filed late. As explained by the district court, "IBM's urgency is belied by the fact that its request is late. Fact discovery closed November 18. Under Civil Local Rule 37-3, IBM's motion to compel discovery was due within 7 days after the fact discovery deadline. Yet IBM filed its discovery motion on December 13, more than two weeks late."

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Plaintiff Cannot Take Back Venue Admission in Patent Infringement Action

December 27, 2016

Plaintiff Ecojet, Inc. ("Ecojet") brought a patent infringement action against Defendant Luraco, Inc. ("Luraco") for infringement of U.S. Patent No. RE45,844 ("the '844 Patent"). After the litigation was pending for several months, Luraco filed a Motion for Leave to File a First Amended Answer regarding venue.

In its motion, Luraco asserted that even though it "originally admitted that venue is proper in this district, it has since determined that venue is improper." The district court explained that "Luraco's argument seems to be tied to its request for re-examination of the '844 Patent, but the actual basis for venue being improper is unclear from its Motion."

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District Court Rules That Claim Construction Requested For First Time During Trial Is Waived

December 22, 2016

During the trial, the plaintiff, Arthrex, requested that the district court construe the term "proximal end" in certain of the patent-in-suit, U.S. Patent No. 8,821,541 ("the '541 patent"). The district court determined that the request for a claim construction was way too late.

The district court began by noting that "Arthrex did not request construction of this term during claim construction, which occurred more than six months ago. Rather, Arthrex requested that the Court construe the term during the Jury Charge Conference-- the night before the last day of a five-day trial. " As explained by the district court, Arthrex based its request on trial testimony from Dr. Alexander Slocum, Defendants' infringement expert, concerning the plain and ordinary meaning of what he understood "proximal end" to mean. Arthrex then insisted that the district court was required to construe the term because Dr. Slocum's testimony raised a dispute regarding its meaning. See O2 Micro Int'l Ltd. v. Beyond Innovation Tech. Co., 521 F.3d 1351, 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2008) ("When the parties raise an actual dispute regarding the proper scope of these claims, the court, not the jury, must resolve that dispute.").

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Court Grants Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Case or Controversy Even Though Patent Holder Did Not Provide Covenant Not to Sue

December 20, 2016

Tech Pharmacy filed a patent infringement action against Defendant Alixa Rx LLC and Defendant Golden Gate National Senior Care LLC d/b/a Golden LivingCenters (collectively, "Defendants"). Tech Pharmacy subsequently filed its Second Amended Complaint to add the Fillmore Defendants as named defendants with respect to the misappropriation of trade secret, breach of contract, and related state tort claims.

In response, the Fillmore Defendants asserted counterclaims for declaratory judgment of invalidity, non-infringement, and inequitable conduct directed at Tech Pharmacy's patents. Tech Pharmacy then filed a motion to dismiss the declaratory judgment claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because Tech Pharmacy had not asserted the patent claims against the Fillmore Defendants.

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District Court Strikes Infringement Contentions Pursuant to Doctrine of Equivalents Because They Contained Blanket Assertions That Did Not Comply with the Local Patent Rules

December 15, 2016

The Defendants filed a motion to strike the Plaintiff's infringement contentions, including their contentions under the doctrine of equivalents ("DOE"), for failing to comply with the Local Patent Rules ("P.R."). The Defendants argued that the Plaintiff's contentions did not comply with P.R. 3-1(d) because the Plaintiff made "impermissible blanket assertions regarding infringement under the doctrine of equivalents."

P.R. 3-1(d) states that the infringement contentions must disclose"[w]hether each element of each asserted claim is claimed to be literally present or present under the doctrine of equivalents in the Accused Instrumentality."

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District Court Orders Plaintiff to Supplement Damage Information Provided in Federal Rule 26 Initial Disclosures Where Plaintiff Failed to Compute an Actual Damage Number

December 13, 2016

In this discovery dispute in a patent infringement action, Frontgate contended that Balsam Brands, Inc. ("Balsam") failed to adequately respond to an interrogatory seeking information about Balsam's damages. As explained by the district court, Balsam's response stated that it: (1) "intends to seek lost profits on the 1,662 Flip Trees that it did not sell during the 2015 Christmas season"; and (2) "intends to seek a reasonable royalty on all Inversion Trees sold by Defendants for which lost profits are not available." Balsam further responded that "historical data on Balsam's cost, sales, inventory, and pricing" was included in materials produced.

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District Court Denies Motion for Preliminary Injunction Where the Plaintiff Did Not Show Specific Facts of Lost Sales or Injury to Goodwill

December 8, 2016

Plaintiff, D Now, Inc. (D-Now), obtained an exclusive license to U.S. Patent No. 8,795,020, which claims a bubble blowing tube. D Now filed a patent infringement action against defendants TPF Toys Limited and TPF Toys LLC (collectively "TPF"). As explained by the district court, "[b]oth parties sell the bubble blowing tube in bouncing bubble kits, wherein the consumer can blow a bubble with the tube then use either gloves (in D Now's product) or paddles (TPF's product) to bounce the bubble."

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District Court Orders Modification of Protective Order to Allow Plaintiff to Use Defendant's Confidential Information in Opposing Inter Partes Review ("IPR")

December 6, 2016

Defendant Baker Hughes Incorporated ("Baker Hughes") filed five inter partes review ("IPR") proceedings before the Patent Trial and Appeal Board ("PTAB") asserting that the plaintiff Lubrizol's patents were invalid because of obviousness. Baker Hughes and a third-party, Flowchem LLC ("Flowchem") had previously produced documents in the underlying case that they designated "Confidential" or "Highly Confidential" under the district court's Protective Order.

Lubrizol asserted that the confidential documents would refute Baker Hughes's obviousness argument in the IPR proceedings and sought a modification of the district court's Protective Order to allow Lubrizol to use the confidential documents in the IPR proceedings. In particular, Lubrizol asserted that the Baker Hughes documents would reveal evidence of copying, which would refute any contention that the patents were obvious.

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District Court Orders Production of Past Testing from Prior Litigations Despite Confidentiality of Third Parties

December 1, 2016

Dexcel filed a motion to compel contending that Takeda has refused to provide any fact discovery concerning Takeda's methods for particle size analysis used in prior litigations or underlying the data in the patents-in-suit. Dexcel asserted "that this information was relevant because it targets whether Takeda's position as to test methods to assess the literal infringement of Takeda's particle size limitations by Dexcel's product is consistent with positions Takeda has taken in the past."

Takeda objected arguing that any discovery into test methods for particle size that were employed in prior litigations "implicates the confidential and highly confidential information" of the defendants in those suits. Takeda also contended that the Discovery Confidentiality Orders entered in those matters prohibit it from disclosing information designated confidential by those defendants.

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District Court Grants Motion to Compel Responses to Interrogatories Even Though Interrogatories Contained Discrete Subpart Where There was only One Accused Product

November 29, 2016

Plaintiff Synopsys, Inc. ("Synopsys") filed a motion to compel defendant, ATopTech, to respond to interrogatories. ATopTech opposed the motion by arguing that it had already answered Synopsys's Set One, Interrogatory Nos. 1-5, which contained at least 21 discrete subparts. ATopTech therefore contended that it was "not required to respond to any of the interrogatories in Set Two, Interrogatory Nos. 6-25, because the Set Two interrogatories also contain discrete subparts, and even responding to Interrogatory No. 6 would require ATopTech to exceed the 25 interrogatory limit under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 33(a)(1)."

The district court began its analysis by noting that "[p]atent cases present unique challenges with respect to the application of Rule 33's numerical limit on interrogatories. A circuit judge for the Federal Circuit, sitting as the district court in a patent case, recently devoted an entire opinion to the issue of what constitutes a 'discrete subpart' for purposes of Rule 33(a)(1). See Erfindergemeinschaft Uropep GbR v. Eli Lilly & Co., 315 F.R.D. 191 (E.D. Tex. 2016).

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District Court Orders Additional Deposition of Defendant after Witness Changed Numerous Deposition Answers in Errata

November 23, 2016

The plaintiff, Chrimar Systems Inc. and Chrimar ("Chrimar") filed a motion to compel an additional deposition of Defendant D-Link Systems, Inc.'s ("D-Link") corporate representative, William C. Brown. Chrimar previously took the deposition of D-Link's corporate representative, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(b)(6).

After the deposition concluded, Mr. Brown supplied an errata sheet, correcting numerous portions of his deposition testimony pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 30(e). In its motion, Chrimar contends that over 60 answers were materially altered and several answers were changed from "yes" to "no." As a result, Chrimar moved the district court to compel "Mr. Brown for a second deposition in Dallas, Texas regarding the changes represented in his errata sheet."

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District Court Warns Plaintiff That If It Narrows Its Case Too Close to Trial, It Will Have Its Trial Time Reduced

November 21, 2016

During the pretrial conference, the Plaintiff Arthrex("Arthrex") told the district court that it may be able to narrow its case once the district court resolved certain pending motions for summary judgment. Shortly after the pretrial conference, the district court informed the parties it would deny the parties' motions for summary judgment and that Arthrex had "raised triable issues of infringement that are sufficient overcome summary judgment."

The district court also stated that it would deny both motions and that a detailed reason for the denials would follow in a separate order.

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