ArrivalStar filed a motion seeking to extend the deadline for providing its preliminary infringement contentions arguing that the district court's scheduling order only provided fourteen days for ArrivalStar to prepare and serve its preliminary infringement contentions, that ArrivalStar was misled by Enroute Systems, the opposing party, into believing that the case management deadlines were on hold while the parties explored settlement and denying an extension would severely prejudice ArrivalStar by precluding consideration of its claims on the merits.
In analyzing ArrivalStar's request, the district court noted that case management deadlines could only be modified by a showing of good cause under Fed.R.Civ.P. 16(b)(4). The district court then concluded that none of the arguments raised by ArrivalStar established good cause for the requested extension.
The court noted that its case management order was issued on December 21, 2011 and that it required the filing of preliminary infringement contentions on or before January 4, 2012, a two week time period in which to file infringement contentions, which is standard in the district and which should not have come as a surprise to ArrivalStar's counsel.
The district court also found that Enroute Systems did not trick ArrivalStar into non-compliance with the district court's order. Although discussions took place, Enroute Systems did not suggest that settlement was likely or indicate that the litigation deadlines would be held in abeyance pending such discussions. The district court also noted that ArrivalStar could have requested a joint extension immediately if it had believed that settlement discussions were ongoing and had a possibility of resolving the matter.
Finally, the district court also rejected ArrivalStar's argument that it would be prejudiced if an extension was not granted because its infringement position may not be heard on the merits. After noting that it had a strong preference for resolving cases on the merits, the district court stated that "governing rules and case law make clear that parties in federal court are not free to ignore the deadlines established in a case management order."
The district court then concluded that "[t]here is no question that this is a harsh result for defendant. However, the policy judgments that prompted the adoption of Rule 16(b) serve the larger interests of judicial efficiency and economy, not just the interests of individual litigants."
Accordingly, the district court denied the motion to extend the filing of infringement contentions.
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The ArrivalStar decision highlights the importance of having preliminary infringement contentions prepared early in the case, if not, before the case is filed. In many district courts, this deadline occurs very early in the litigation, frequently two weeks after the scheduling conference, and the patent holder should be prepared to serve those on that date as an extension of the date may not be granted.
Enroute Systems Corp. v. ArrivalStar S.A., Case No. C11-0451RSL (W.D. Wash. March 28, 2012)
The authors of www.PatentLawyerBlog.com are patent trial lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. We represent inventors, patent owners and technology companies in patent licensing and litigation. Whether pursuing patent violations or defending infringement claims, we are aggressive and effective advocates for our clients. For more information contact Stan Gibson at 310.201.3548 or SGibson@jmbm.com.