Full Disclosure: The Northern District Amends Its Local Rules to Require Early Damages-Related Disclosures

N.D. Cal. Patent Local Rules

Patent litigants in the Northern District of California will have something new to argue over following the Court’s approval in January of Patent Local Rule amendments that impose damages-related disclosure requirements. The Court also tweaked a few other patent local rules. READ MORE

A Defendant’s Understanding of Infringement Contentions Is Not Enough To Comply With The Patent Local Rules

Order Granting Motion to Strike, Staying Discovery, and Granting Leave to Amend, GeoVector Corporation v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, Case No. 16-cv02463-WHO (Judge William H. Orrick)

Albert Einstein once noted:  “Any fool can know.  The point is to understand.”  That logic was recently applied in a patent infringement case brought by GeoVector Corporation against Samsung.  GeoVector learned that the Courts of the Northern District will not accept the sufficiency of infringement contentions that the Court itself finds inscrutable and unintelligible merely because the defendant has supposedly “demonstrated an understanding” of the plaintiff’s theories. READ MORE

The 4-Hour Plaintiff: Author/Speaker/Podcaster Tim Ferriss Secures Default Judgment

Order Granting In Part And Denying In Part Plaintiffs’ Motion For Default Judgment, Timothy Ferriss, et al. v. Alliance Publishing, Inc., et al., Case No. 15-cv-05675 (Judge Edward M. Chen)

Tim Ferriss is known for authoring The 4-Hour Workweek and other self-help books on the “4-Hour” theme. He may now become known as the “4-Hour Plaintiff” after he and a company he owns, Krisa Performance, obtained a default judgment against defendants alleged to have improperly used his name and likeness in connection with a fraudulent scheme.

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No Junior Associates, No Hearing: Supplementation Granted

 

Illumina, Inc. et al v. Qiagen N.V. et al, Case No. 16-02788 (Judge William Alsup) (November 29, 2016)

In an effort to promote judicial efficiency, Courts often allow a plaintiff to supplement its complaint if doing so would settle the parties’ controversies in one action. This is the rationale Judge Alsup applied in Illumina, Inc. et al v. Qiagen N.V. et al, Case No. 16-02788 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 29, 2016) when allowing plaintiff Illumina to amend its complaint to add a newly issued patent that was granted after plaintiff filed its complaint. Judge Alsup listed several efficiency-related factors favoring supplementation: (1) the supplemental claims accuse the very same product already in the action; (2) the newly issued patent has narrower claims, so allowing them in this action would avoid duplicating some of the issues already in the case; (3) even though there are new issues associated with the supplemental claims, there is no evidence that these new issues would be so burdensome as to delay the current schedule. Thus, because of the significant commonalities between the two patents, the Court decided that it would serve the purpose of judicial efficiency to enable the parties to litigate both patents in the same case.

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A Day Late And A Dollar Short – Court Grants Summary Judgment On Laches Defense

Order Granting Summary Judgment On Dropbox Laches Claims, Dropbox, Inc. v. Thru Inc., Case No. 15-cv-01741-EMC (Judge Edward M. Chen)

The proverb “[e]quity aids the vigilant, not the sleeping ones” aptly describes the rationale behind the defense of laches-i.e., the legal doctrine which states that a plaintiff who unjustifiably delays pursuing a claim may forfeit it. Intended to encourage the timely resolution of disputes and to avoid prejudice to defendants, laches can have dire consequences for plaintiffs who unreasonably delay bringing their claims. READ MORE

“Use in Commerce”: Look Before You Leap

Order Granting Motion to Dismiss, With Leave to Amend, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, LLC, et al. v. Treasury Wine Estates Americas Co., 16-cv-04922-RS (Judge Richard Seeborg)

Plaintiffs in trademark cases may be tempted to file suit as early as possible to head off any potential consumer confusion. But as a recent order explains, plaintiffs need to keep in mind that the Lanham Act requires a “use in commerce” to maintain a complaint. Plaintiffs who fail to plead an adequate “use in commerce” could find themselves fighting (and losing) a motion to dismiss. READ MORE

Judge Whyte Retires

The Northern District of California is a different court today than it was last week: Effective as of November 1, Senior District Judge Ronald M. Whyte has stepped down from the bench and assumed inactive status after serving over 24 years on the federal bench. Judge Whyte will leave a lasting mark on the Northern District and on intellectual property law more broadly based on his leadership in developing the patent local rules and many notable IP decisions, among other things. He has been widely recognized and praised by practitioners, academics, and other judges. As quoted in the court’s notice of his departure, Chief Judge Hamilton stated: READ MORE

When Strategy Backfires: A Plaintiff Pays the Price for Dumping Too Much Information Into a Trade Secret Disclosure

Order Regarding Discovery Dispute Joint Report #1, VIA Tech., Inc. v. ASUS Computer Int’l et al., Case No. 14-cv-3586 (Magistrate Judge Howard Lloyd)

There is a tension in many IP cases between disclosure rules that require a plaintiff to identify its liability theories early in the case, and the understandable desire of the plaintiff to keep open its options for seeking recovery. Some plaintiffs respond to these tensions by stating their allegations in highly general terms, often leading defendants to ask for more specifics. Other plaintiffs attempt to overwhelm their opponents with detail, triggering calls by their opponents to narrow the relevant claims.  Sometimes such obfuscatory tactics work, but they can backfire too. That was the recent result in VIA Tech., Inc. v. ASUS Computer Int’l et al., in which a plaintiff seeking recovery for misappropriation of trade secrets was ordered not only to trim its case, but also to disclose the alleged trade secrets to the defendant (rather than only to defense counsel). READ MORE

Mind Reading Infringement Contentions

Order Regarding Discovery Letter Briefs, InteraXon Inc. v. NeuroTek, LLC, Case No. 15-cv-05290 (Magistrate Judge Kandis A. Westmore)

InteraXon, maker of a mind reading meditation aid, is not required to read the patentee’s mind to figure out his infringement contentions.

Licensing negotiations between InteraXon and defendants fell apart sometime in the spring of 2015, prompting InteraXon to file a declaratory judgment suit for non-infringement and invalidity against defendants NeuroTek, LLC, MindWaves, Ltd. and Dr. Jonathan Cowan, an inventor of U.S. Patent No. 5,983,129. Dr. Cowan then filed a counterclaim for infringement. READ MORE

Trying to Erase the Past: Judge Won’t Vacate Section 101 Ruling After Settlement

Order Denying Motion to Vacate Judgment, Protegrity USA, Inc. v. Netskope, Inc., Case No. 15-cv-02515-YGR (Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers)

When parties settle a case, they usually want to put it all behind them and move on. But what if the court’s decisions still hang over their heads? Protegrity thought it could erase the past by agreeing with its opponent to have an undesirable ruling vacated, but it learned the hard way that such a result is outside the parties’ control. READ MORE