Bench Trial Recommended on Equitable Defense Before Jury Trial

Hard facts may make bad law, but unusual facts make interesting opinions. That’s a reasonable take after reviewing Judge Payne’s report and recommendations to Judge Gilstrap that the defendant’s equitable defense of unclean hands be tried to the bench before allowing the plaintiff to proceed to a jury trial on the patent infringement claims – currently scheduled for January 19.

This is the infringement case against Samsung brought by two companies in which Samsung has asserted that two of its former employees improperly used privileged information to assist the plaintiffs in bringing the claims. Samsung moved to dismiss the claims as “irreparably tainted” by the alleged conduct. Noting that the facts relating to the alleged conduct are in dispute, Judge Payne recommended that the motion be denied, but that the court conduct an evidentiary hearing on the “unclean hands” defense. “

While some of the facts do not appear to be seriously disputed, many of the facts that Samsung relies upon are denied, and Techiya has not been called upon to put up its evidence, as it would at trial or on summary judgment. On the other hand, Samsung has raised serious issues about unclean hands, and it would be inefficient to go through an entire trial on infringement, invalidity and damages before even reaching the potentially dispositive issue of the litigation misconduct at issue on this motion.

Order at p. 4

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