Back across the street yesterday for scheduling conferences in patent cases, followed by scheduling conferences in everything else. The cases discussed below are for Judge Gilstrap’s share of the Marshall patent docket, as well as the Lufkin patent docket and one Sherman patent case.
The tempo is picking up on Judge Albright’s Waco patent docket, with this order last week denying a motion to dismiss that raised a patentable subject matter defense.
It’s not from the Eastern District of Texas, but it’s nonetheless another interesting example of a motion to dismiss a patent case for lack of patentable subject matter early in the litigation.
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.
Section 101 motions asserting lack of patentable subject matter are sometimes brought as motions for judgment on the pleadings under FRCP 12(c). After reading this order, I think I might reconsider whether that’s a good idea.
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.
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.
This case is a little unusual in that the day before the Markman hearing the Federal Circuit affirmed another district court’s grant of summary judgment of indefiniteness based on construction of a single word. The Court asked for additional briefing, and after considering it, issued the attached opinion.
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.