Articles Posted in District Courts

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Ethicon filed a motion for summary judgment on one of the Panduit factors that are necessary to obtain lost profits. In its motion, Ethicon contended that Covidien’s alleged non-infringing alternatives were neither acceptable nor available.

https://patentlaw.jmbm.com/files/2019/01/background-close-up-court-1415558-pexels-CC0-01.14.2019-1-300x201.jpgIn evaluating the motion, the district court explained that a “noninfringing alternative need not be on the market during the infringement period to factor into a lost profits analysis.” Wechsler v. Macke Intern. Trade, Inc., 486 F.3d 1286, 1298 (Fed. Cir. 2007). But the district court also noted that where an alleged non-infringing alternative was not on the market during the relevant time period, “a trial court may reasonably infer that it was not available as a non-infringing substitute at that time. The accused infringer then has the burden to overcome this inference by showing that the substitute was available.” Grain Processing, 185 F.3d at 1353 (citation omitted). Moreover, “[t]he acceptable substitute element, though it is to be considered, must be viewed with limited influence where infringer knowingly made and sold the patented product for years while ignoring the substitute.” Panduit, 575 F.2d at 1162, n.9.

Covidien did not dispute that its alleged non-infringing alternatives were not on the market during the relevant time period and, therefore, Covidien bore the burden to overcome the inference of non-availability. See Grain Processing, 185 F.3d at 1353. Covidien contended that at least two non-infringing alternatives to its allegedly infringing device were available during the relevant time period. However, the district court noted that the record showed that it would between 46 and 62 weeks to develop such a non-infringing alternative.

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Cisco moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s patent infringement complaint pre-lawsuit willfulness allegations. As the district court explained, the allegations in the first amended complaint asserted: “(i) that an investor of both the owner of the ‘951 Patent and of OpenDNS informed unspecified employees or agents of OpenDNS that certain OpenDNS technology infringed the ‘951Patent (ii) that defendant acquired OpenDNS in 2015 and (iii) that defendant incorporated the allegedly infringing OpenDNS technology into the Accused Security Products.”

To analyze whether the allegations were sufficient, the district court explained that “[a]t the motion to dismiss stage, courts have concluded that a plaintiff must “plead facts showing willfulness” in order to avoid dismissal of a willful infringement claim. Cont? Circuits LLC v. Intel Corp., No. CV16-2026 PHX DGC, 2017 WL 2651709, at *7 (D. Ariz. June 19, 2017) (collecting cases). In this respect, the complaint must allege, as a “prerequisite” to a willfulness claim, that the defendant had “[k]nowledge of the patent alleged to be willfully infringed.” See WBIP, LLC v. Kohler Co., 829 F.3d 1317, 1341 (Fed. Cir. 2016). Yet, a plaintiff has not plausibly alleged willful infringement if he alleges only that “the evidence shows that the infringer knew about the patent and nothing more.” Halo Elecs., Inc. v. Pulse Elecs., Inc., 136 S. Ct. 1923, 1936 (2016) (Breyer, J., concurring). As courts have sensibly concluded, the complaint must also allege facts that support a plausible inference that the defendant’s behavior was “egregious,” such as facts showing that defendant was put on notice or was otherwise subjectively aware of the risk that its conduct constituted infringement. See, e.g., Puget Bioventures, LLC v. Biomet Orthopedics LLC, 325 F. Supp. 3d 899, 911 (N.D. Ind. 2018); Finjan, Inc. v. Cisco Systems, Inc., No. 17-CV-00072-BLF, 2018 WL 7131650, at *4-5 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 6, 2018) (collecting cases).”

After reviewing the relevant case law, the district court noted that “[i]t is a close call whether the facts alleged in the First Amended Complaint are sufficient to support a plausible inference that, prior to the initiation of the instant infringement suit, defendant (i) knew of the ‘951 Patent and (ii) was subjectively aware of the risk that its conduct infringed the ‘951 Patent. In its response to defendant’s motion, plaintiff argues that OpenDNS’s knowledge of the ‘951 Patent and awareness of the infringing nature of its technology are attributable to defendant by virtue of defendant’s acquisition of OpenDNS in 2015.”

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After the district court dismissed plaintiff’s patent infringement claims, finding the patents directed to patent-ineligible subject matter, and awarded attorneys’ fees based on the exceptional case doctrine, the Federal Circuit affirmed both determinations. The defendant filed a supplemental motion for attorneys’ fees seeking to recover attorneys’ fees for the appellate process. The plaintiff opposed the motion.

https://patentlaw.jmbm.com/files/2019/05/banner-money-paper-brand-cash-illustration-815076-pxhere-cc0-05.01.2019-1024x405.jpgIn analyzing the motion, the district court explained that it had previously “determined that this case was frivolous and that plaintiff had litigated it in an unreasonable manner, rending the exceptional and entitling defendant to an award of attorneys’ fees. None of those underlying facts have changed, and plaintiff does not argue that they have.”

The court then determined that there was no need to make a second finding of exceptionality. “There is no need to make a second, separate determination under § 285 as to whether the case is exceptional. See, e.g., Dippin’ Dots, Inc. v. Mosey, 602 F. Supp. 2d 777 (N.D. Tex.2009) (rejecting plaintiffs’ argument that defendant had to “make a separate showing that the appeal itself is exceptional” and that fees “have to be separately justified in each phase of a case,” finding that defendant was entitled to fees without a second determination of exceptionality). That is, plaintiffs handling of the case since dismissal need not independently qualify as exceptional. Indeed, plaintiff does not argue here that a second, independent finding of exceptionality is required. As such, this Court’s earlier determination controls, and defendant is entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees under 35 U.S.C. § 285.”

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https://patentlaw.jmbm.com/files/2019/03/structure-wood-floor-building-steps-column-1049086-pxhere.com-cc0-03.22.2019-300x200.jpgIn this patent infringement action, the defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint for the plaintiff’s failure to participate in discovery and for ignoring several court orders. The motion explained that dismissal sanctions were appropriate in the light of, among other things, the plaintiff’s failure to comply with court orders, sanction order and to appear for a court hearing.

In analyzing the motion, the district court explained that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37 empowers the district court to compel compliance with discovery procedures though a broad choice of remedies and penalties, including dismissal with prejudice. Griffin v. Aluminum Co. of Am., 564 F.2d 1171, 1172 (5th Cir. 1977). “Dismissal of a complaint with prejudice is such a drastic remedy that a district court should only apply it only in extreme circumstances.” Id. However, dismissal with prejudice may be appropriate where a plaintiff’s failure to comply involves “either repeated refusals or an indication of full understanding of discovery obligations coupled with a bad faith refusal to comply.” Id.

The district court concluded that dismissal with prejudice was appropriate under the circumstances. As noted by the Magistrate Judge, the plaintiff had “willfully, in bad faith, and in disregard of his responsibilities failed to comply with the Court’s Order.” Furthermore, since the case was filed eight months ago, “Plaintiff has been sanctioned twice and has failed to: respond to an order to show cause; timely file a case management report; appear for a hearing; comply with the Court’s Order compelling discovery; and, most recently, respond to three separate motions by Defendant.” The district court found that these repeated violations establish a “clear record of delay or willful contempt,” far beyond mere negligence or confusion. See Goforth v. Owens, 766 F.2d 1533, 1535 (11th Cir. 2010). Given these “extreme circumstances,” the district court determined that dismissal with prejudice was warranted. See Griffin, 564 F.2d at 1172.

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https://patentlaw.jmbm.com/files/2019/03/2019-03-12_14-59-13-cc0-pxhere-03.12.2019-300x200.jpgIn this patent infringement action, the plaintiff, International Designs Corporation, LLC (“IDC”), moved to disqualify the counsel for defendant Hair Art Int’l, Inc. (“Hair Art”).   IDC moved to disqualify counsel for Hair Art on the grounds that Hair Art’s counsel also represented/represents an entity named Halo Couture, LLC, a California limited liability company (“HC1”) and, potentially, Halo Couture, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company (“HC2”), which were apparently “sister companies” of IDC and share a common parent.

The district noted that neither HC1 and HC2 were parties to the litigation.  The district court also noted that there is “no contention that IDC, Hairtalk GmbH or Günter Alex were ever clients of Defendant’s counsel. The district court also found that IDC had not “presented the Court with any case indicating that representation of an entity that serves as a ‘sister company’ to a present litigation opponent provides a basis under applicable law for disqualification of that counsel in the present litigation, either by way of an actual-conflict theory or a theory based on the presumption of possession of confidential information. Moreover, Movants’ ‘unity of interests’ theory appears to look to a unity of interest between an entity and its ‘parent,’ not between an entity and its ‘sister.’”

The district court also disregarded IDC’s other theories for disqualification, concluding that IDC had “not demonstrated a sufficient basis to conclude that there is a ‘subject matter (technology) based conflict’ because of HC1-HC2’s pending design patent application and Defendant’s product line.  Nor have Movants demonstrated that there is a realistic basis for a potential or future conflict based on the continued presence of an antitrust affirmative defense in this action. Their concern on that point is that Defendant ‘can pursue its anti-trust defense, seeking competitive sales data for the hair extension industry, including sales records of HC1 and HC2 and IDC’ and that ‘[i]f DEFENSE COUNSEL pursue the anti-trust discovery, such discovery demand to HC1 and HC2 will pass through’ an attorney who is both in-house general counsel of IDC and ‘special in-house I.P. counsel’ of the corporate parent and HC2.”

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8-o-clock-alarm-clock-analogue-1198264-300x200In this patent infringement action, the defendant, Playmonster LLC (“Playmonster”), requested that the district court stay discovery during the pendency of its forthcoming dispositive motion. As part of its request, Playmonster contended that a dispositive motion “would be the most efficient resolution of this case,” and that a stay of discovery would promote judicial efficiency and conserve the Parties’ resources, which would include reducing the attorney’s fees that would be spent on the case should the dispositive motion be granted.

The plaintiffs, Quality Innovative Products, LLC (“Quality”), opposed the stay of discovery in the case.  As its main argument, the plaintiffs asserted that the case was filed over a year ago, “and the Defendant has enjoyed substantial delay already while it pursued a first dispositive motion” that it used “as an excuse not to comply with its discovery obligations.”  Quality further argued that they “should not have to piece meal litigation for the convenience of the Defendant.” Quality also asserted that they oppose filing of dispositive motions until discovery closes.

The district court concluded that a stay of discovery was inappropriate.  “The court is disinclined to stay discovery pending the filing of a dispositive motion. While Defendant may file a dispositive motion at any time it deems appropriate on or before the set deadline, the court’s practice standards do limit parties to one dispositive motion without leave of the court. See NYW Civ Practice Standards 56.1. In addition, leave to file additional dispositive motions is only granted in exceptional circumstances. See id. Further, stays of discovery in this District are generally disfavored, see Church Mut. Ins. Co. v. Coutu, No. 17-CV-00209-RM-NYW, 2017 WL 3283090, at *2 (D. Colo. Aug. 2, 2017), and nothing in the record before the court at this juncture justifies a stay.”

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In this patent infringement action, the plaintiff, Stuebing Automatic Machine Co. (“Stuebing”) filed a motion for violation of multiple discovery orders against the defendant. As part of the motion, Stuebing sought issue sanctions, including to have certain sales information deemed established.

https://patentlaw.jmbm.com/files/2019/02/background-blurred-background-books-1178683-Hourglass-my1-pexels-cc0-02.11.2019-300x225.jpgStuebing had previously served multiple discovery requests, including interrogatories and document requests. Over a year after responses to the discovery requests were due, the district court ordered the defendant to fully respond to the requests in several different court orders. Despite these orders, the defendant provided Stuebing with incomplete discovery information.

In analyzing the motion, the district court explained that “[a] party becomes vulnerable to sanctions upon the party’s failure to comply with a court’s discovery order. See U.S. v. $49,000 Currency, 330 F.3d 371, 379 (5th Cir. 2003). “A court has broad discretion to determine an appropriate sanction under [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (hereafter “FRCP”)] 37(b), […] which may include an order directing that certain designated facts be taken as true.” Bradt v. Corriette, No. 16-CV-805-LY, 2018 WL 1866112, at *2 (W.D. Tex. April 18, 2018) (citing Pressey v. Patterson, 898 F.2d 1018, 1021 (5th Cir. 1990)). FRCP 37(b)(2) authorizes the imposition of a “concurrent sanction of reasonable expenses, including attorney’s fees, caused by the failure obey a discovery order.” Smith & Fuller, P.A. v. Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., 685 F.3d 486, 488 (5th Cir. 2012).”

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The plaintiff, Bayer, moved to exclude the opinion of the defendant’s damage expert, Dr. Rausser, for failing to show that the licenses that he used for his reasonable royalty analysis were technologically or economically comparable to the license resulting from the hypothetical negotiation.  The district court agreed with Bayer on the economically comparable point and granted the motion to exclude on that basis.

https://patentlaw.jmbm.com/files/2019/02/abstract-art-artistic-251287-pexels-cc0-02.05.2019-300x169.jpgAs explained by the district court, Bayer asserted that the license resulting from the hypothetical negotiation would be a non-exclusive, running royalty license between competitors, and of Dr. Rausser’s four selected licenses, only one was a non-exclusive license, two were between competitors, and none of them used a running royalty.

The district court stated that the strongest argument by Bayer “relates to Dr. Rausser’s use of lump-sum licenses to support a running royalty hypothetical license. ‘Significant differences exist between a running royalty license and a lump-sum license.’ Lucent, 590 F.3d at 1326. A lump-sum license can still be relevant to running royalty damages, but “some basis for comparison” must exist. See id. at 1330. Defendants argue that Lucent is inapposite because here, unlike in Lucent, the parties agree that damages should be in the form of a running royalty. Defendants further argue that, “while it may be difficult to determine a lump sum from a running royalty,” as shown in Lucent, “the opposite is not true.”

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https://patentlaw.jmbm.com/files/2019/01/citrus-citrus-fruit-close-up-52533-pexels2-cc0-01.29.2019-300x289.jpgIn the ongoing litigation war between Qualcomm and Apple, spanning multiple forums around the country, Qualcomm moved to exclude Apple’s technical experts’ reliance on certain license agreements by asserting that the agreement involved technology that was not sufficiently comparable.  After reviewing the license agreements, the experts’ opinions, and the law, the district court concluded that Qualcomm’s motion should be granted.

After reviewing the license agreements at issue (which have been redacted as confidential), the district court explained that “the first question is whether Apple’s technical experts have shown that any patents underlying these License Agreements are technologically comparable to the https://patentlaw.jmbm.com/files/2019/01/apple-close-up-edible-89434-pexels-cc0-01.29.2019-1024x478.jpgpatents at issue here. The Federal Circuit has cautioned “that ‘district courts performing reasonable royalty calculations [must] exercise vigilance when considering past licenses to technologies other than the patent in suit,’ and ‘must account for differences in the technologies and economic circumstances of the contracting parties[.]’” VirnetX, Inc. v. Cisco Systems, Inc., 767 F.3d 1308, 1330 (Fed. Cir. 2014) (citations omitted). “When relying on licenses to prove a reasonable royalty, alleging a loose or vague comparability between different technologies or licenses does not suffice.” LaserDynamics, Inc. v. Quanta Computer, Inc., 694 F.3d 51, 79 (Fed. Cir. 2012).

The district court then explained that “Apple’s experts have gone through the License Agreements and found at least one patent from each Agreement that they believe is technologically comparable to the patents in suit. Qualcomm’s motion goes directly to those opinions, and asserts they are conclusory and do not meet the standard for technological comparability.”

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https://patentlaw.jmbm.com/files/2019/01/freerangestock-download-cc0-01.23.2019-300x288.jpgIn a patent infringement action, Takeda Pharmaceuticals America, Inc., and Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., Inc.’s (collectively, “Takeda”) filed a motion to disqualify Baker Botts, L.L.P. (“Baker Botts”) from representing Defendants Zydus Pharmaceuticals (USA) Inc. and Cadila Healthcare Limited (collectively, “Zydus”). Takeda moved to disqualify Baker Botts from representing Zydus based on Baker Botts’ alleged previous representation of Ethypharm S.A. (“Ethypharm”) in earlier litigation involving Takeda’s Prevacid® SolutabTM product.

Takeda asserted that the law firm should be disqualified from representing Zydus based on a Common Interest & Confidentiality Agreement (the “Agreement”) Ethypharm entered into with Takeda and TAP Pharmaceutical Products Inc. (“TAP”) in the Delaware Action.

In this regard, Takeda claimed that the Agreement created an implied attorney-client relationship between Takeda and Baker Botts. As explained by the district court, Takeda argued that the current litigation was substantially related to the prior litigation involving Ethypharm, arguing that even though the patent infringement claims were dismissed, leaving only Zydus’ antitrust counterclaims, the matters remained substantially related because the critical issue in deciding Zydus’ antitrust counterclaims is whether Takeda’s assertion of the dismissed patent claims was objectively baseless. Takeda also contended that facts and theories from the prior litigation, including arguments concerning commercial success were relevant and long-felt because, in order to succeed on its antitrust counterclaims, Zydus must establish a monopoly, and, consequently, Zydus has sought discovery on Takeda’s sale and marketing of Prevacid® SoluTab.TM