Articles Posted in District Courts

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In this patent infringement action, the district court analyzed whether a litigation funding agreement should be produced. After it reviewed the litigation funding agreement that the plaintiff had entered into with a litigation funder, the district court concluded that the funding agreement itself was not relevant to issues of standing.

The district court explained that the funding agreement appeared to provide a security interest in four of the patents-in-suit to a third party, but noted that they had not been exercised and likely would not be exercised, if ever, for a long time. On that basis, the district court concluded that the litigation funding agreement and the related communications would not be relevant to standing.

In reviewing the funding agreement, however, the district court found that a portion of the agreement did not concern funding the litigation but instead detailed how the third-party fund would provide the plaintiff with money that the plaintiff could then use to purchase the four patents-in-suit. The district court concluded “[t]hat portion of the agreement, and any communications relating to it, would appear to be relevant to damages in this case (such that were that content not privileged or work product protected, it should be produced). See, e.g., Integra Lifesciences I, Ltd. v. Merck KGaA, 331 F.3d 860, 871 (Fed. Cir. 2003); Finjan, LLC v. ESET, LLC, Case No.: 17-cv-183-CAB-BGS, 2021 WL 1541651, at *6 (S.D. Cal. Apr. 20, 2021); TC Tech. LLC v. Sprint Corp., No. 16-cv-153-RGA, 2019 WL 2515779, at *10 (D. Del. June 18, 2019); Uniloc USA, Inc. v. Apple Inc., Case No. 19-cv-01692-EJD (VKD), 2020 WL 4368207, at *2 (N.D. Cal. July 30, 2020) (citing cases).”

Speyside Medical, LLC v. Medtronic CoreValve LLC et al, Case No. 1-20-cv-00361 (D. Del. April 28, 2021)

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The district court previously granted summary judgment in favor of the plaintiff, Red Carpet Studio (“Red Carpet”), finding that Defendants Midwest Trading Group Inc. (“MTG”), Walgreen Company and CVS Pharmacy Inc. infringed the patent-in-suit. The parties agreed that two issues remained: (1) determining the relevant “article of manufacture,” and (2) calculating the “total profit” on that article of manufacture. Red Carpet argued that the district court should decide the second issue without a jury because it seeks disgorgement of profits, which Red Carpet maintained is an equitable remedy with no right to a jury trial.

As the district court explained, determining a damages award under 35 U.S.C. § 289 “involves two steps. First, identify the ‘article of manufacture’ to which the infringed design has been applied. Second, calculate the infringer’s total profit made on that article of manufacture.” Samsung Elecs. Co. v. Apple Inc., 137 S.Ct. 429, 434, 196 L.Ed. 2d 363 (2016). The district court acknowledged that “neither the Court nor the parties were able to find authority which directly resolves the question of whether a jury or a judge must make this determination,” but concluded that “there [is] sample support for the conclusion that a claim for damages under § 289 is one for equitable relief.” Continue reading

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Plaintiff Global Tubing, LLC (“Global”) filed a motion to compel production of documents withheld as privileged by Defendant Tenaris Coiled Tubes, LLC (“Tenaris”). As explained by the district court, in its motion to compel, Global claimed that Tenaris obtained its patents by deceiving the Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”), withholding prior art in prosecuting the main patent, and then altering and withholding a key piece of the prior art. Global contended that Tenaris’ actions withholding the material from the PTO amounted to fraud, vitiating any attorney-client privilege under the crime-fraud exception. Global sought to compel documents withheld as privilege that were in the possession of the prosecution counsel relating to the prior art materials and those relating to inventorship of the three patents at issue. Global also sought to compel production of an affidavit submitted in support of the patent that Tenaris clawed back asserting that the privilege, if any, was waived and the affidavit contained direct evidence of Tenaris’ fraud on the PTO, vitiating any privilege under the crime-fraud exception to the attorney-client privilege.

In support of the motion to compel the affidavit, Global presented evidence of Tenaris’ knowledge of the prior art materials, the inventors’ review and discussion of those materials and the overlapping specifications with the patent-in-suit. As explained further by the district court, Global also showed that Tenaris tendered the materials to prosecuting counsel, and counsel reorganized the material, removing the title page, divider pages, and entire specifications section, which purportedly contained information on overlapping chemistries, particularly significant in light of the PTO’s previous rejection of the patent based on obviousness that included overlapping chemistries. Continue reading

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In this patent infringement action, the plaintiff, Payrange, sought to withhold as privileged a PowerPoint presentation (the “Proposal”) prepared by its current litigation counsel, Wilson Sonsini. Prior to representing Payrange, but in the hope that it would be retained, Wilson Sonsini prepared the presentation and then forwarded it to Payrange. Payrange asserted that the Proposal was a privileged communication protected by both the attorney-client and work-product privileges, that it was inadvertently produced, and that it was clawed back promptly when Defendants raised their intention to rely on the presentation in a filing.

As explained by the district court, the Proposal primarily contains background regarding Wilson Sonsini’s litigation experience, its experience in the intellectual property and patent space, information regarding attorney experience, and a proposed fee arrangement. Additionally, the Proposal contains a comparison of possible venue districts for this litigation. On the executive summary page, the Proposal recommends a preference for one of those venues, and, finally, also on the executive summary page, the Proposal offers a suggestion that Payrange discourage other companies from working with the Defendants. Continue reading

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In this patent infringement action, the plaintiff, Personalized Media Communications, LLC (“PMC”), moved to exclude the testimony of Apple’s damages expert, Mr. Thomas. In rebuttal, Mr. Thomas estimated that PMC would be entitled to a lump-sum payment of $1 million per allegedly infringing patent.

PMC asserted that Mr. Thomas’ damages calculation was improper because his calculation of the value added by the patents-in-suit to the functionality of Apple’s FairPlay was flawed. As explained by the district court, PMC pointed to Mr. Thomas’ calculation when he “divided the profitability of FairPlay by 53 (50 Apple DRM patents plus the three patents-in-suit).” They state Mr. Thomas’ calculation “necessarily assumes that each of Apple’s patents has in fact contributed separate and non­cumulative benefit[s] to FairPlay.” PMC further states “[t]he Thomas Report contains no analysis of whether each (or even any) of Apple’s DRM patents were in fact used by Apple in its FairPlay technology at the time the patents-in-suit were issued, the priority date of the Apple patents, or whether the Apple patents are valid.” Continue reading

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Plaintiff All Plastic contended it was a leading manufacturer of premium displays and containers for medicinal and recreational cannabis dispensaries. All Plastic filed a patent infringement action against Defendants SamDan LLC d/b/a Smokus Focus (“SamDan”), Samuel Whetsel (“Mr. Whetsel”), and Daniel Russell-Einhorn (“Mr. Russell-Einhorn”) (with Mr. Whetsel, “Individual Defendants” and collectively, “Defendants”) alleging that Defendants make, use, and sell containers for personal cannabis use, that infringe upon the patent-in-suit.

All Plastic filed a motion to compel seeking an order compelling Defendants to produce various documents, re-designate materials already produced and designated “Confidential-Attorneys’ Eyes Only,” and remove redactions applied to materials produced on Defendants’ asserted basis of “relevance.” All Plastic made three arguments to support its contention that “[m]ost of the materials designated by Defendants do not qualify as AEO,”: (1) materials designated as AEO by Defendants are not highly sensitive in nature so as to qualify as trade secrets; (2) the maintenance of Defendants’ unwarranted AEO designations will prejudice All Plastic’s ability to litigate this case because Plaintiff’s counsel can share with their client almost “no material fact” learned from Defendants in this action; and (3) Plaintiff should not bear the expense of objecting to every single one of Defendants’ designations to ensure Defendants’ compliance with their duty to review documents in good faith before designating them as AEO, as per the Protective Order. Continue reading

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Plaintiff Baxter International (“Baxter”) sued CareFusion Corporation and Becton, Dickson and Company (“Defendants”) for infringement of three medical infusion pump patents, U.S. Patent Nos. 5,764,034 (the ‘034 Patent), 5,782,805 (the ‘805 Patent), and 6,231,560 (the ‘560 Patent). Baxter moved to strike portions of the Defendants’ invalidity expert, including asserting that the expert impermissibly expanded the scope of the final invalidity contentions.

As explained by the district court, in addition to using the patents for descriptions of physical prior art devices, the expert relied on them as prior art in and of themselves. Baxter contends that this was inappropriate because Defendants’ Final Invalidity Contentions identified the physical devices (the Orion Prototype and Signature Edition II (Model 7200) Pump) as the asserted prior art, not the patents. The district court disagreed finding that after a review of the final invalidity contentions, Baxter was mistaken. The district court concluded that “Defendants disclosed the Eggers, Voss, and Marston Patents as prior art” and the expert was free to rely on them as such. Continue reading

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In this patent infringement action, the defendant moved to compel the production of settlement license agreements as part of its reasonable royalty analysis. The plaintiff opposed the request on the grounds that the agreements were protected by the common interest privilege and were not relevant.

The district court disagreed.

Turning to the issue of common interest, the district court explained that “[t]he protection of communications among clients and attorneys ‘allied in a common legal cause’ has long been recognized” and “has previously arisen in connection with patent rights.” In re Regents of University of California, 101 F.3d 1386, 1389 (Fed. Cir. 1996). In patent cases, “the Federal Circuit has required the entities exchanging the privileged material to have a substantially identical legal interest, as opposed to a solely commercial interest.” High Point SARL v. Sprint Nextel Corp., No. 09-2269-CM-DJW, 2012 WL 234024, at *7 (D. Kan. Jan. 25, 2012) (citing In re Regents, 101 F.3d at 1389). “An exception to the assertion of the common interest privilege exists when the participants in the common interest become adverse to each other in litigation.” Dexia Credit Local v. Rogan, 231 F.R.D. 287, 295 (N.D. Ill. 2005). Continue reading

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In this patent infringement action, the City of Hope filed a motion for summary judgment. The district court denied the motion without prejudice for failing to comply with the Local Rules meet and confer requirement.

Central District Local Rule 7-3 provides that “counsel contemplating the filing of any motion shall first contact opposing counsel to discuss thoroughly, preferably in person, the substance of the contemplated motion and any potential resolution” at least seven days before filing a motion. C.D. Cal. L.R. 7-3. “The purpose of Local Rule 7-3 is to help parties reach a resolution which eliminates the necessity for a hearing,” which “further[s] judicial economy and the administration of justice.” James R. Glidewell Dental Ceramics, Inc. v. Phila. Indem. Ins. Co., No. 8:16-cv-01155-JLS-E, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189416, at *1 (C.D. Cal. Sept. 12, 2016) (internal quotation marks omitted); accord Caldera v. J.M. Smucker Co., No. CV 12-4936-GHK (VBKx), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 183977, at *2 (C.D. Cal. June 3, 2013) (noting that the rule “enables the parties to brief the remaining disputes in a thoughtful, concise, and useful manner” (internal quotation marks omitted)).

The district court explained that the City of Hope did “not present a statement of compliance with the prefiling conference requirement, as required by the Local Rule. Although the record shows that the parties long have contemplated filing motions for summary judgment, the motion itself is devoid of any information showing that counsel discussed the issues in the motion thoroughly such that the briefing will be “directed to those substantive issues requiring resolution by the Court.” (Initial Standing Order § 9(c).)” Continue reading

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As explained by the district court, Zadro Products, Inc. (“Zadro”) sued Feit Electric Company (“Feit”) for patent infringement alleging that Feit infringed on two of Zadro’s patents: United States Patent No. 8,162,502 (“the ’502 Patent”) and United States Patent No. 8,356,908 (“the ’908 Patent”). Zadro alleged that one of Feit’s products, the Enhance Rechargeable LED Vanity Mirror (model number VRM-1), infringed at least claims 1–9, 18, and 22–23 of the ’502 Patent under 35 U.S.C. § 271(a). Zadro also alleged that the Enhance Rechargeable LED Vanity Mirror infringed at least claims 28–32 of the ’908 Patent under 35 U.S.C. § 271(a).

In its summary judgment motion, Feit asserted that the Zadro mirrors that practice the ’502 Patent do not have marks on them that comply with the requirements of § 287(a). Both parties agreed that Zadro practices the ’502 Patent. The parties also agreed that Zadro does not mark the practicing mirrors themselves. Instead, Zadro contended that marks on the packaging of the practicing products satisfy § 287(a).

The district court explained that § 287(a) requires that a product itself be marked unless “from the character of the article, this can not be done.” “[S]ubstantial compliance may be found to satisfy the [marking] statute.” Global Traffic Technologies LLC v. Morgan, 620 Fed. Appx. 895, 905 (Fed. Cir. 2015) (alteration in original) (quoting Maxwell v. J. Baker, 86 F.3d 1098, 1111 (Fed. Cir. 1996)). No set list of factors can be used to determine whether the “character” of the product makes marking the packaging of the product permissible. Id. at 905-906. Some factors might include the size of the product, whether what is patented is a machine or a multi-part system, and whether the product is immediately installed out of public view once unpackaged. Id. at 905. Continue reading