Indefiniteness and Plain Meaning

This is a Markman ruling that concluded that a claim term was indefinite.  The Court set forth the current standards for such an argument before concluding that the term had been shown by clear and convincing evidence to be indefinite in light of the court’s other constructions. The opinion also addresses several times the argument that a claim term should be given its plain meaning, and provides a good set of examples for when this argument will be accepted.

Reassignment of EDTX Civil & Criminal Actions

Whenever the makeup on a district court’s bench changes, though retirements or the addition of new judges, the docket is reallocated.  Last week saw a significant reallocation of the Eastern District’s cases due to the arrival on the bench of Judge Jeremy Kernodle in Tyler and changes in Senior Judge Ron Clark’s docket.  I wanted to go through the changes and what they mean in the affected divisions.

“Pruning” Type Motions to Dismiss

One of the commonly cited uses for a motion to dismiss to to identify and cut out of a case claims or defenses which don’t have support, either in the law or in the facts of the case.  Such motions serve the useful purpose of pruning cases back to what’s actually at issue, although I have an editorial comment on that below.

But as with any pruning job, there’s a line between cutting off the dead wood and cutting out causes of action that are still at least potentially live.  This recent EDTX case illustrates where this line is with respect to pleaded claims.

More Proportionality; Motion to Compel Sales Information Granted in Part

This is an order resolving a motion to compel on damages issues in a patent case.  At issue was whether the Defendants, a parent and a subsidiary, were required to provide financial data on infringing sales made by the parent to entities other than the named sub, and whether Defendants were required to provide financial data for certain additional products.  The Court granted one but denied the other, citing the “p” word and providing a useful list of things not to do to preserve a claim for discovery.

A Streetcar Named ….

It often happens when walking with a visiting lawyer or client to or from the federal courthouse in Marshall that I get a funny look when we cross the bricked-up tracks on the north side of the old courthouse.  “Why are there train tracks in the middle of the square?” I’ll get asked.  I explain that those aren’t train tracks.  They’re from the old streetcars that used to run from the Marshall train station south the few blocks to the square. At the courthouse they split and from there went out half a dozen blocks or so to the neighborhoods east and west of downtown.
The problem is that until today I’ve never been able to find a decent photo of the trolley cars.  But here they are in a “History From Our Files” from the Marshall paper this morning, shown looking north from the steps of the then-new county courthouse shortly after 1900.
The “telephone” building on the right is now Telegraph Park, but was still there when I was little – my grandmother clipped poodles in it.  And the block of buildings on the left were razed in the mid-70s.  The reason I know that is that my mother took me out of school to watch them being torn down.  Why that was a “take Michael out of school to watch” event I never understood. But then, it was also a family event to watch concrete being poured back then – my initials are still in the sidewalk next to my office from when the concrete was patched in 1971 in front of my grandfather’s store, and he insisted she bring me out so I could put my initials in.
But immediately behind those buildings under the arrow is what was then the Marshall “opera house” which I’ve written on previously . “Opera house” was the term used in rural Texas for the places where visiting troupes of actors, singers, musicians and other entertainers played at stops up and down the railroad lines.  For example the Sherman “opera house” is now our firm’s offices in Sherman, as the above post notes.  It looks a bit different now, as shown at the dedication of the Sherman courthouse for Judge Brown a few years back.  Candidly, I preferred its original appearance, shown at right when it was a third floor and two towers taller.
But I digress.  Patent practitioners will recognize the building being pointed out as Pazzeria by Pietro – which was formerly the Blue Frog restaurant.