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.
This case presents one of the more interesting examples of partial stays due to parallel proceedings before the PTO, with the court staying some of the claims, and severing and proceeding to trial on others. It also illustrates the consequences of not joining in pending IPRs.
While the rest of us were settling down to watch the election returns Tuesday a Tyler jury in Judge Schroeder’s court rendered a verdict in a patent case involving two claims from a single patent.
Defendants in patent cases sometimes allege that a plaintiff has failed to comply with the marking requirement of 35 U.S.C. § 287, and thus that pre-suit damages are limited. As here, that motion often takes the form of a motion for partial summary judgment. The Court’s order in this case provides a useful exposition on the applicable standards for patent marking, and applies those standards to the facts of this rather interesting case to determine whether the pleadings were sufficient for the plaintiff to seek presuit damages in the first place, and if so, whether the defendant met its burden to allege a limitation, and if so (also) whether the plaintiff had satisfied its burden of compliance.
Wait – I went into the ditch here. On a motion for summary judgment, the final question is not whether the plaintiff had shown compliance, but actually just whether there is a factual dispute as to whether unmarked patented products were sold. There, I feel better.
I finished reading these rulings on the parties’ motions in limine in a recent patent case this afternoon and decided that there was nothing unusual enough in them to justify a post analyzing them, but am posting the order anyway simply to show examples of common rulings in response to common issues in patent cases. These are always worth reviewing so that when a similar issue comes up, you have an idea what the ruling is likely to be if the issue is disputed, including the specific language that might be appropriate for an agreed limine.
Many courts have default rules that restrict claim construction briefing. They might be page limits applicable either to claim construction or to motions in general, or a presumptive limit on the number of terms to be construed, either in toto or at a time. This order deals with a case where limits on both were in place and a party sought leave to expand both the number of terms and the page limits, as well as asking the Court to apply constructions from a prior. It indicates which of these arguments work, and which might be best left on the hard drive.
Today’s B side is what most practitioners in federal court really want to know – how do I get out? This order granting a plaintiff’s motion to remand due to lack of timely written consent, but denying fees, provides an overview of the relevant standards for both.
Several months ago I announced the last ruling that dealt with a claim of waiver for failure to assert an improper venue claim timely following TC Heartland. I was premature, because there was still this case, which was stayed due to pending IPR proceedings three months before Heartland was decided. When the stay was lifted several weeks ago, the defendant asserted an improper venue argument, and the plaintiff asserted that the defense had been waived.
Let’s start the week off with a little palate cleanser in the form of an order dealing with a motion to transfer a patent case to the Northern District of California, but with the added frisson of a different procedural context – this one’s an order on a motion to reconsider the Court’s order granting the motion to transfer.
When cases get close to trial, the requests for additional discovery and the orders granting it can get a bit harried as bits and pieces are granted or denied. And sometimes those grants (or denials) come with costs that do have a price tag. Here are a couple of recent orders from the Eastern District of Texas that illustrate how those can work out.