District Court Declines to Hear Early Motion for Summary Judgment on Section 101 and Postpones Hearing until Claim Construction

December 31, 2014

In the pending patent infringement action between Netflix and Rovi, Netflix filed a motion for summary judgment, seeking a ruling that Rovi's patents are invalid under 35 U.S.C. § 101. After the motion was filed, the district court "advised Netflix that it was entitled to only one motion for summary judgment in this case, that would be heard after claim construction, and that it needed to seek leave if it intended to go forward with the already-filed motion."

The district court then found that as a matter of procedure Netflix's motion was improperly filed. "Netflix did not seek leave of court, nor did it meet and confer with Rovi, prior to filing its early motion for summary judgment. The court also wholly rejects Netflix's attempt to circumvent the court's rules by re-characterizing its motion as a motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c)."

The district court was not persuaded by Netflix's argument that the summary judgment motion presented a threshold issue that could eliminate the entire case. "While Netflix's motion may indeed present a threshold issue for the court to consider, the court will not consider the motion before claim construction - and will instead hear Netflix's motion at the same time that it hears claim construction arguments."

The district also limited Netflix to two summary judgment motions. "The court also limits Netflix to two motions for summary judgment in this case - the already-filed motion for summary judgment of invalidity under section 101, and one additional motion to be filed after the close of discovery. No further leave will be granted."

Netflix, Inc. v. Rovi Corporation, et al., Case No. C 11-6591 PJH (N.D. Cal. Dec. 22, 2014)

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