Two civil cases out of Tyler today, both resulting in dismissals.
Around our house, T-Rex means the above logo on a t-shirt. Around the courthouse it means motions for summary judgment – but are they more like a T-Rex’s jaws, or its hands?
With apologies to Elizabeth Barret Browning, let me count some of the very interesting ways this case tells us that infringement claims can be lost.
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.
An improper inventorship defense rests on the statutory requirement that a patent is invalid if more or fewer than the true inventors are named.
A defense of “derivation”, on the other hand, requires proof of both prior conception of the invention by another and communication of that conception to the patentee.
Both defenses require proof by clear and convincing evidence.
This case presents an interesting situation in which the defendant claimed that the plaintiff wasn’t the inventor, but did not identify who else was. Given that the procedural context was the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment as to the defendant’s improper inventorship defense, the issue presented was thus whether Defendant had created a genuine issue of material fact regarding its defenses of improper inventorship and derivation.
On the derivation defense, the issue was whether the Defendant had adduced proof that the “entirety” of the invention was conceived by others.
Motions to strike expert testimony usually attack multiple opinions by the expert, and orders not infrequently deny some, but not all of the grounds. This order provides an example of that … and oh so much more.
Motions to transfer alleging inconvenience aren’t as common as they were before TC Heartland, but you still see them from time to time. In this case, Judge Mitchell concluded that the relevant factors made the proposed transferee forum in California “clearly more convenient.
The issue of when cases should be stayed due to pending IPR proceedings, and what effect those proceedings will have on the district court litigation if they are resumed are issues of interest to many patent litigators. This opinion issued earlier today addresses both.
Texas lawyers are spoiled when it comes to service of process. We get to serve process in civil suits using certified mail, return receipt request in state court. And in the same way that state court procedures tend to bleed into federal court practice, even where the federal rule is not the same (think who pays for expert discovery) the state rules on service of process influence practice in federal court as well.
In part for that reason, in part because other nations have this perplexing tendency not to follow the Texas rules of civil procedure, and in part because agreements tend to eliminate this issue in many cases, the actual requirements for service of process on foreign defendants are terra incognito-ish for many practitioners, and can present obstacles when not rigorously followed, as this decision shows.
A recurring issue in patent cases is when a technical expert’s opinion is consistent with the Court’s claims construction, and simply opines whether infringement exists under the construction, and when it is not. A recent case provided three useful examples where an expert did – but in some cases did not – proffer opinions that were consistent with the claim constructions the jury would have to consider, or was otherwise permissible.