May 2016 Archives

As Part of Protective Order, District Court Orders Prosecution Bar and Covenant Not to Sue for New Patents Acquired by Patent Holder

May 31, 2016

In this patent infringement action, a dispute arose between Plaintiff Blackbird Tech LLC ("Blackbird") and the defendants over the terms of proposed protective orders to govern the use of confidential information produced. Although the parties agreed that a protective order was appropriate, they disagreed on the level of access by Blackbird's in-house counsel and the scope of a patent prosecution bar.

The district court explained that the protective order presented a unique circumstance given Blackbird's business, which was described as "a new model for individual inventors and small companies to monetize their intellectual property." "Blackbird achieves this goal by acquiring patents and litigating on behalf of itself, using experienced patent litigators that are directly employed by Blackbird instead of outside counsel, at a great cost savings." Blackbird also described the acquisition of patents as being "essential" to its business. An important part of Blackbird's business model is to maintain "a diverse portfolio of patents and not to be concentrated in one technological area."

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District Court Precludes Evidence of Patent Trial and Appeal Board's Denial of Institution of Inter Partes Review at Trial

May 25, 2016


As this patent infringement action proceeded to trial, Google filed a motion in limine to exclude evidence of Google's petitions for Inter Partes Review ("IPR") of claims of the patent-in-suit and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board's ("PTAB") denial of institution of those petitions. Google had previously filed petitions with the PTAB seeking to invalidate the patent-in-suit and the PTAB had declined to institute review of the petitions.

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District Court Strikes Infringement Contentions and Sanctioned Plaintiff for Taking Inconsistent Positions

May 23, 2016

The defendant, Echoworx, brought a motion to strike ZixCorp's infringement contentions. ZixCorp had served its original infringement contentions on Echoworx, contending that the elements of the patent-in-suit are software limitations, and stated that it intended to supplement its infringement contentions after Echoworx produced source code for each of Echoworx's accused instrumentalities.

After Echoworx produced its source code for review, ZixCorp served P.R. 3-1(g) Amendments to Its Infringement Contentions ("amended contentions"). Echoworx then complained to ZixCorp that ZixCorp's amended infringement contentions were deficient under 3-1(c) and ZixCorp had violated the Discovery Order by refusing to provide the identifications of source code for software limitations required by P.R. 3-1(g).

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District Court Strikes Documents That Were Not Produced During Discovery Even Though Documents Were Publically Available

May 18, 2016

In this patent infringement action, Mobile Telecommunications Tech., LLC ("MTel") filed against Blackberry Corp., MTel moved to exclude certain exhibits that were archived press releases published by RCR Wireless and SkyTel webpage screenshots of advertisements. MTel objected that these exhibits are inadmissible because they have not been authenticated by a representative from the Internet Archive service, or "Wayback Machine." MTel also objected that all of the exhibits constitute hearsay and that none of the exhibits were produced during discovery.

BlackBerry conceded that none of the exhibits were previously produced. It contended that the failure to produce the documents was harmless because they were publicly available. The district court disagreed.

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Court Declines to Modify Judgment Based on Collateral Proceedings before the PTAB Finding Claims of Patent-In-Suit Invalid

May 16, 2016

Summary: In the decision referenced below, the court declined to modify a judgment pursuant to Rule 60(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure even though the PTAB had found several claims of the patent-in-suit invalid.

After a trial and an appeal to the Federal Circuit, which affirmed the royalty damages verdict in favor of the plaintiff, the defendant moved the district court to grant it relief from the judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(6). The defendant argued that it would be unjust for the court to enforce a judgment in which ongoing collateral proceedings before the PTAB may render certain patents invalid and may have impacted the fairness of the trial.

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Failure to Institute Inter Partes Review Is Not Grounds for Common Law Estoppel to Prevent Defendant from Re-Litigating Issues Raised before the Patent Office

May 11, 2016

The defendant filed a petition for Inter Partes Review ("IPR") with the Patent Office. As part of its application, it submitted a 65 page brief along with several hundred page s of accompanying evidence. The plaintiffs submitted a 60 page brief along with its own evidence in response. After the Patent Office declined to institute review of the patent-in-suit, the plaintiffs contended that the denial of the IPR was a final decision by an administrative board and that the defendant was collaterally estopped from bringing those same arguments again before the district court.

After reviewing the law on collateral estoppel, the district court noted that the defendant "did not make it past the preliminary proceedings in their attempted IPR." The district court concluded that this was important for several reasons. "First, it means a 'trial' was never conducted o[n] the merits. Instead, the 'proceedings' were limited to a single petition brief, a response, and any accompanying evidence. Second, there was not a final written decision issued. The Board denied further review, that is, it denied initiating the IPR proceedings. Accordingly, no final written decision was necessary."

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District Court Grants Permanent Injunction after Summary Judgment Ruling in Favor of Patent Holder Where Defendant Was Direct Competitor and Patent Holder Had Lost Sales and Market Share

May 9, 2016

After the district court granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment of patent infringement, the district court addressed whether a permanent injunction was appropriate. The patent at issue, U.S. Patent No. 6,065,794 ('794 Patent), which is titled "Security Enclosure for Open Deck Vehicles," relates to storage management devices, or "trunk enclosures," that partition and establish a lockable trunk in the rear of convertible cars.

The district court then proceeded to address the four factor for determining whether an injunction should issue. Addressing irreparable harm, the plaintiff argued that it had suffered and will continue to suffer irreparable harm as a result of the defendant's infringement because the defendant is a direct competitor and the plaintiff has lost sales and market share due to Defendant's infringement. In response, the defendant argued that the plaintiff could not show irreparable harm because it had not demonstrated that customers purchase the infringing devices because of the patented features and therefore, the plaintiff had failed to satisfy the "causal nexus" requirement.

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District Court Refuses to Recognize "Apex" Doctrine for Documents Created by Inventor and Global Leader of Company

May 4, 2016

The defendant filed a motion to compel, seeking a wide array of discovery against Plaintiffs Dyson, Inc. and Dyson Limited (collectively, "Plaintiffs") to produce emails belonging to James Dyson ("Dyson"). Plaintiffs asserted that Dyson is Plaintiffs' "global leader" and one of the named inventors on the patents-in-suit.

Although plaintiffs agreed to produce Dyson's emails that are relevant to the issue of "inventorship," they refused to produce documents relating to other issues, such as claim construction or infringement. The plaintiffs refused to produce any such emails because the "apex doctrine" requires that the defendants show that they could not obtain such evidence from other sources before obtaining them from high-ranking corporate officials, such as Dyson.

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Experts Ordered to Produce Draft Reports Exchanged with Other Experts

May 2, 2016

In this patent infringement action, the plaintiff, BRP, alleged three counts of patent infringement against Arctic Cat concerning snowmobile frame construction and snowmobile rider positioning. BRP alleged patent infringement by at least 91 Arctic Cat snowmobiles regarding two frame patents and infringement by at least 95 Arctic Cat snowmobiles regarding the seat position patent.

During expert discovery, Arctic Cat moved the district court for an order compelling BRP to produce any documents, notes or emails exchanged between BRP experts Larson and Raasch, particularly focused on draft expert reports exchanged between the two experts.

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