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.
The outcome of the Order aside, practitioners before Judge Alsup should bear in mind his decision to vacate the hearing on the motion because there was “no notice of a junior attorney being assigned to argue.” Magistrate Grewal, before he stepped off the bench, also issued a similar ultimatum. Specifically, he stated in an order that “the court expects that each party will allow associates to present its arguments on at least two of the six months to be heard. If any party elects not to do this, the court will take its positions on all six motions on the papers and without oral argument.” See GSI Tech., Inc. v. United Memories, Inc., Case No. 5:13-cv-01081- PSG, Order Re: Oral Argument, Dkt. No. 1112 (March 9, 2016). In that case, the parties subsequently stipulated to take all motions off calendar and submit them without any hearing. Id., Order Re: Parties’ Stipulation to Vacate Hearing, Dkt. No. 1116 (March 11, 2016). Like Magistrate Grewal, Judge Alsup, at least in his recent Order, likewise declined to hold a hearing where no junior attorney was assigned to argue the merits. Is this a new pattern emerging in the Northern District of California? We’ll have to watch and see.