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.

“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.

Proportionality Finally Gets Used in a Discovery Order

Let’s say you defeat an adversary in litigation, and you’re looking for assets from which a judgment can be satisfied.  Can you get discovery into your former opponent’s disposition of assets?  The answer is yes, but not prior to when you made your claim.  Why? Because it would not be proportional to the needs of the case. This order makes that finding, but then defines what discovery would be “proportional” under the circumstances.

Breach of Settlement Agreement

I’ve seen a couple of cases recently out of the EDTX dealing with breaches of settlement agreements.  In some cases the complaining plaintiff (who in this case was the original plaintiff) seeks injunctive relief, but in this copyright case it is just seeking an order in a default situation that it is entitled to the unpaid payments due under the original agreement, as well as fees, costs, and since the infringing activity has resumed, a finding of liability and award of statutory damages.  In essence, the hole for the copyright defendant just got twice as deep.  (Pro tip: don’t default).

Admittedly this is a default situation, but it’s a nice template for what to seek when you have to go once more unto the breach.