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District Court Declines to “Reverse” Bifurcate Trial to Try Damages before Patent Infringement and Calls Motion “Baseless”

California Home Spas, Inc. (“CHS”) filed a motion to bifurcate the trial between damages and infringement and asserted that the damage trial should proceed first. As noted below, the district court denied the request finding that bifurcation is unusual and that defendant had not justified the unusual procedure in this case.

CHS contended that the damages in this case will be limited and urged the district court to bifurcate the case to first determine the amount of damages in order to facilitate any settlement discussions between the parties. The plaintiff argued that CHS’s damages estimates are inaccurate and that bifurcating the case would only serve to delay the ultimate outcome of the case. The Plaintiff also asserted that CHS’s motion was part of CHS’s ongoing “vexatious and deceitful conduct.”

The district court began by noting that both parties agreed that bifurcation was an unusual step in a lawsuit and that defendant had not justified the unusual procedure in this case. “The Court agrees and finds that Defendant has failed to articulate any good cause to justify why this unusual procedure would be appropriate in this case. Therefore, CHS’s motion to reverse bifurcate is denied.”

The plaintiff also requested that the district court include language in its order “related to CHS’ deceitful conduct and prolonging tactics” to facilitate a later finding regarding the propriety of fees pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 285. Although the district court believed that a determination of sanction would be premature, the district court did state that “Defendant’s conduct since this case first was filed in December of 2014, has been defined by arguably frivolous arguments and filings. For example, after already having filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6), ECF No. 19, Defendant filed a motion to dismiss or transfer venue, ECF No. 41, and relied on unsupported assertions and raised arguments that it already had waived. See ECF No. 57. In seeking a transfer of venue, Defendant argued that a myriad of reasons supported the suitability of transferring venue to the Central District of California, but then perplexingly added a request to alternatively transfer venue to the Western District of Washington. That request undercut all of Defendant’s arguments in favor of a transfer to California. In supporting the Western District of Washington as the appropriate venue, Defendant argued that Western Washington is where defense counsel’s law firm is located. Additionally, Defendant apparently has responded to a discovery request not by providing the requested information, but by stating an intent to do so months later. All of this occurred prior to the hearing regarding this present Motion to Reverse Bifurcate, which the Court sees as yet another baseless motion.”

The district court then explained that “although the Court is not yet making a finding regarding the applicability of 35 U.S.C. § 285, Defense counsel is advised that the Court has taken note of its arguably unreasonable conduct thus far.”

Leisure Concepts, Inc. v. California Home Spas, Inc.
, Case No. 2:14-CV-388-RMP (E.D. Wash. March 24, 2016)

The authors of are patent trial lawyers at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. For more information about this case, contact Stan Gibson at 310.201.3548 or