November 2011 Archives

Leave of Court Required Before Summary Judgment Motion Can Be Filed Denied Where "Look and Feel" of a Website Was Not Indefinite

November 30, 2011

In a case pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, the district court entered an order that leave of court must be obtained before a summary judgment motion may be filed. Defendant filed a letter brief with the district court seeking leave to file a motion for summary judgment of invalidity based on indefiniteness.

The letter brief asserted that the claims in the patent-in-suit were indefinite based on the Federal Circuit's decision in Datamize LLC v. Plumtree Software, Inc., 417 F.3d 1342 (Fed. Cir. 2005). In Datamize, the Federal Circuit affirmed a summary judgment in favor of a competitor on the basis that the claims that disclosed a software program which allowed people to author user interfaces for electronic kiosks were indefinite. The Federal Circuit focused on the patent's use of the term "aesthetically pleasing" and whether that term met the standard for definiteness. The Federal Circuit found that definition of "aesthetically pleasing" could not depend on an undefined standard and that the definition could not be based on subjective opinion.

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Brand New Expert on Reply Precluded as Litigation Maneuver as Google's Motion to Strike Oracle's Expert Is Granted

November 28, 2011

Oracle served an opening damages expert report in May 2011 and it did not serve any other opening damages expert reports. Google challenged the expert report with a Daubert motion, which the district court granted in July 2011.

In the order granting the Daubert motion, the district court allowed Oracle an opportunity to cure the defects in the expert report. During a case management conference a month later, Oracle stated that it might present a second, additional damages expert. Oracle served a revised opening damages expert report in September 2011 from the same expert that it had used to prepare the May 2011 report. It did not submit an additional expert report on damages at that time.

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Lucent's Damages Against Microsoft Keep Getting Smaller as $70 Million Is Reduced to $26 Million

November 25, 2011

In the ongoing trial over damages for several Microsoft products between Lucent and Microsoft, the United States District Court for the Southern District of California has reduced the damage award against Microsoft from $70 million to $26.3 million, plus prejudgment interest. The new trial on damages occurred after the Federal Circuit affirmed a jury's finding that the so-called Day patent was valid and infringed but reversed the jury's determination of damages. The Day patent claims a date-picker feature in the calendar function of Outlook, one of just many uses for Microsoft's popular Outlook program. The Federal Circuit remanded the case for a new trial on damages to determine an appropriate royalty based on one feature of Outlook.

After the jury returned a verdict of $70 million, the district court addressed whether the amount should be reduced on post-trial motions. Before addressing that issue, the district court noted that "[t]his case illustrates the difficulty of properly valuing a small patented component, without a stand-alone market, within a larger program." Lucent's damage calculation was based on a lump-sum license in the form of an upfront, paid-in-full royalty. The royalty calculation is particularly difficult in this case because the date-picker feature is just one among many Outlook features and Outlook, although sold separately, is much more commonly purchased as part of the suite of products found in Microsoft Office.

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Plaintiff Gives Thanks That Texas Court Denied Prevailing Defendants Their Attorneys' Fees Despite Plaintiff's Claim Construction and Infringement Theories That "Stretch[ed] the Bounds of Reasonableness"

November 24, 2011

In three patent cases brought by the same plaintiff, Raylon LLC, against numerous defendants, Judge Davis of the Eastern District of Texas denied Rule 11 sanctions and motions for attorneys' fees under Section 285 of the Patent Statute, and Section 1927 of Title 28.

Following the grant of summary judgment of noninfringement, Defendants filed motions contending that Raylon's infringement theory was "so legally untenable" that fees and costs should be awarded under Sections 285 and 1927. Defendants earlier had filed a Rule 11 motion seeking sanctions. Raylon asserted U.S. Patent No. 6,655,589 ("the '589 patent") against all of the defendants. All of the claims of the '589 patent require a "display being pivotably mounted on said housing." Raylon argued that this should be construed to mean "an electronic device attached to a housing that visually presents information and allows the display to be moved or pivoted relative to the viewer's perspective" and alleged that infringement was found where the entire device, not just the display, could be pivoted to the view. Defendant EZ Tag sought a construction of the term to mean that "an integral computer screen which can move positions with regard to the computer housing and is not maintained in a fixed position." The remaining defendants argued that it should mean "the display must be mounted on the housing and the mounting of the display on the housing must be pivotable so that the display and housing may pivot with respect to each other." The Court construed the term as "the display must be mounted on the housing so that the display and housing may pivot with respect to each other." Because it was undisputed that all of the defendants' accused products had displays that were rigidly mounted as to the housing, the court granted summary judgment of noninfringement, both literally and under the doctrine of equivalents.

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Motion to Stay Based on Customer Suit Exception Denied as Premature Where Infringement Contentions Had Not Yet Been Served

November 23, 2011

The plaintiff sued over 500 defendants for patent infringement in multiple actions in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The patent-at-issue claims a "'software interface' that may provide a 'map of a selected geographic area' such that 'information which is associated with particular geographic locations,' such as 'good and services,' 'can be readily accessed.'" Eighty-one defendants in the various actions moved to stay the case pursuant to the "customer suit exception" to the first-to-file rule.

The moving defendants contended that their case should be stayed pending the outcome of a later filed declaratory judgment action brought by Microsoft and Google, among others, in the District of Delaware, because the declaratory judgment actions were manufacturer suits. The moving defendants contended that they merely license the relevant software from the manufacturers. Accordingly, the moving defendants contended a resolution of those lawsuits may resolve the cases against the licensees.

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The Battle Over Android: Oracle and Google Experts Differ by Billions on Damages So Court Appoints Its Own Expert

November 21, 2011

In the continuing battle over the Android operating system, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California decided to appoint its own damage expert. The district court explained that under Fed.R.Evid. 706(a), the district court "may appoint expert witnesses of its own selection" and noted that the Supreme Court has long recognized the constitutionality of court-appointed experts. The district court also noted that the Federal Circuit and the Ninth Circuit have acknowledged and recognized that the district courts enjoy wide latitude in making such appointments.

After explaining the authority for the appointment of expert witnesses, the district court turned to why such an appointment was necessary in the ongoing battle between Google and Oracle. Stating that "[t]he damages aspect of this controversy is particularly involved," the district court noted that "[t]he accused items are not entire products but rather elements of products, whose roles and relative importance within the larger units are disputed." The parties also further complicated the damage analysis by using elaborate nontraditional business models for distributing and monetizing the relevant products. "For example, Google allegedly distributes its accused Android software free of charge, hoping to later benefit from improved market position and advertising revenue generated by Google searches on Android devices. Oracle, for its part, claims to have been harmed by the supposed fragmentation of its Java platform and developer community due to Google's allegedly selective use of Java elements in Android."

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After Six Years, Stay Pending Reexamination Is Lifted As the Life of the Patents Is Nearly Extinguished

November 18, 2011

In December 2004 and early in 2005, the plaintiff filed three patent infringement actions against several parties. The district court consolidated the cases. All of the consolidated cases were stayed by the district court pending reexamination by the Patent and Trademark Office ("PTO"). Many years later, the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences ("BPAI") upheld the validity of two of the patents. As a result, the plaintiff moved to lift the stay of the consolidated actions. Defendants opposed the lifting of the stay.

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Failure to Disclose Expert on Timely Basis Justifies Exclusion Before Markman Hearing

November 16, 2011

In this patent infringement action, the defendant moved to exclude plaintiff's expert witness on the basis that the expert was not disclosed on a timely basis. The plaintiff disclosed the witness on November 4, 2011, as an expert to testify as to "the molecular weigh characterization of polymers" in a claim construction hearing scheduled for November 9, 2011. The deadline for identifying witnesses to give testimony relevant to claim construction expired in July 2011.

In analyzing whether there was surprise as to the expert testimony, the district court began by noting that "[t]o name a witness so far beyond the deadline set by the scheduling order would require a strong justification." The district court found that "[t]he issue of how molecular weight of a polymer should be measured was clearly identified as an issue for claim construction in the parties' joint claim construction statement." From this joint claim construction statement, the district court determined that it was established that plaintiff had notice of "differences as to how the molecular weight of a polymer was measured well before July 29, 2011." The district court also noted that plaintiff did not suggest otherwise.

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Customers Severed in Multi-Defendant Litigation and Case Against Suppliers Transferred

November 14, 2011

In the wake of the new restrictions on joinder of multiple defendants after the enactment of the America Invents Act, a number of plaintiffs have still attempted to join multiple defendants in a single lawsuit. One tactic used by plaintiffs is to file suit against several customers of a supplier along with the supplier of the accused product. This type of lawsuit establishes a close connection between the defendants in that the accused product is the same across all the defendants, which likely is a permissible joinder under the new standards set forth in the America Invents Act.

Nonetheless, this new tactic is having limited success. In a recent patent infringement action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the plaintiff sued several customers and the supplier of an accused product. The defendants moved to sever the customer defendants from the supplier defendant and to stay the action against the customer defendant. The supplier defendant also moved to transfer the severed action against it to the Northern District of California where it was based. It also asserted that transfer was appropriate because the plaintiff was based in Southern California, much closer to the Northern District of California than the Northern District of Illinois.

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Facebook's Motion to Stay Pending Reexamination Denied Where Plaintiff Showed It Would Suffer Undue Prejudice

November 11, 2011

In December 2010, Indacon, Inc. ("Indacon") sued Facebook, Inc. ("Facebook") for patent infringement for two patents that pertain to a system for data acquisition and perusal. The plaintiff filed a Markman brief and Facebook filed an inter partes request for reexamination. Facebook then filed a motion to stay the case pending the outcome of the reexamination.

Facebook asserted that the stay was necessary because it filed the inter partes reexamination based on recent briefing by Indacon. Facebook claimed it had filed the reexamination request based on the Markman briefing filed by Indacon, asserting that it had three invalidating prior art references that were not before the PTO. Based on the reexamination filing, Facebook argued that the district court should temporarily stay the litigation because discovery "is far from complete and a trial date has not been set" and the stay would not unduly prejudice the plaintiff.

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HP's "Stunning" and "Arrogant" Restrictions on Plaintiff's Expert Denied Where HP Sought to Preclude Expert from Working in Similar Field or Against HP for Several Years After Trial

November 9, 2011

In a patent infringement action pending in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, one of the defendants, Hewlett-Packard ("HP") moved for a protective order with respect to the designation of one of plaintiff's experts. Plaintiff contended that HP infringed certain patents held by plaintiff by making and selling products that use multiple condition code registers, such as printers. HP contended that the accused products often incorporate or integrate third party technology or components and therefore HP had in its possession, custody or control of third party confidential information in the form of documents and source code.

The plaintiff notified HP that its expert would inspect the source code. HP objected to the expert's proposed source code inspection contending that it would not produce the source code unless there was protection for third-party confidential information. HP also demanded that the expert agree not to work for non-practicing entities and not to perform work adverse to HP for several years after trial of the case. "HP asks the Court to add provisions to the Amended Protective Order that require [plaintiff's expert] to attest that he is not working for any entity in a capacity of reviewing patens or products, services, or targets for non-practicing entities, other than as a result of this litigation, and that he will not do so for four years after trial of this lawsuit" HP also sought to preclude the expert from working on the prosecution of any patent directed or related to the field of computer processor architecture for a period of four years following trial and not to perform any work adverse to HP for a period of three years following trial.

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Expert Survives Challenge to Methodology Where Report Contained Opinions That Plaintiff's Licenses Would Raise Prices by Excluding Competitors

November 7, 2011

Sandisk Corp. ("Sandisk") filed a patent infringement action against Kingston Technology Co., Inc. ("Kingston"). Prior to trial, Sandisk moved to exclude defendant's expert witness on damages because the expert's methodology was unreliable and because the supplemental report contained untimely opinions.

In terms of reliability, Sandisk asserted that the expert used an incorrect legal standard for defining the relevant geographic market and the expert's definition did not fit the facts of the case. The expert defined the market to include "all manufacturers, regardless of where located, with the legal right to sell flash memory products in the United States." Plaintiff asserted that this was the wrong market because the expert defined the market in terms of the location of sales instead of by the region where consumers are able and willing to purchase substitutes. The district court disagreed, finding that "[c]ontrary to plaintiff's assertions, this definition does not exclude foreign competitors who may divert products into the United States or competitors without a license from plaintiff."

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Recommendation to Deny Transfer Motion Where Private and Public Interest Factors Were Neutral and Therefore Defendants Did not Meet Burden to Show Proposed District Was More Convenient Than Eastern District of Texas

November 4, 2011

Round Rock Research ("Round Rock") purchased approximately 4500 patents from Micron Technology. Round Rock then sued Dell and Oracle on certain of these patents for patent infringement in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. Within a few months of the filing of the lawsuit, Dell and Oracle moved to transfer the case to the Western District of Texas.

In ruling on the motion to transfer, the Magistrate Judge first focused on whether the case could have originally been filed in the Western District of Texas, i.e., whether the Western District of Texas would have personal jurisdiction over the defendants. The Magistrate Judge concluded that it would as Dell is a resident of the Western District of Texas and Oracle sells its accused products worldwide, including within the Western District.

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Defendants Precluded From Introducing Evidence of Their Own Scientists Work to Apportion and Decrease Damages

November 2, 2011

In a patent infringement case pending before the United States District for the Western District of Wisconsin, the plaintiffs filed a motion in limine before the damages phase of the trial to preclude the defendants from arguing that the work performed by their scientists should be taken into account in apportioning damages. The district court granted the plaintiff's' motion to exclude the evidence.

Defendants contended that the work performed by their scientists added value and should be considered when the jury determined plaintiffs' lost profits. Defendants essentially argued that the damages should be apportioned to reflect the added value that was provided by their scientists.

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