Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Defendant’s Repeated Discovery Abuse and Delay Tactics Warrant Terminating Sanctions, Treble Damages, Attorney Fees and Permanent Injunction

​ The court granted plaintiff's motion for terminating sanctions, including treble damages, attorney fees, and an injunction, for defendant's repeated disregard of court orders. "[Defendant] refused to produce documents relevant to the design, manufacture, and sale of the allegedly infringing products. . . . Defendant failed to produce documents reflecting sales of the allegedly infringing products, and produced a single page summary of sales along with heavily redacted invoices that made it impossible for [plaintiff] to identify customers. . . . [Defendant's] corporate representative failed to appear at the scheduled deposition. . . . In addition to the flagrant discovery abuse and contemptuous behavior exhibited by [defendant], the Plaintiff details in their Motion for Sanctions the numerous attempts by [defendant] to derail this litigation by repeatedly attempting to stay the proceedings, and by filing a last minute emergency motion for a protective order. . . . The undersigned agrees with [the magistrate judge's] assessment of the Defendant’s intentional obstructionist behavior. . . . The Court finds that Defendant . . . engaged in the above-described misconduct with the subjective intent to abuse the judicial process. . . . The Court finds the imposition of these sanctions to be necessary to adequately punish [defendant] for its wanton and repetitive disregard of this Court’s orders and as a consequence of its willful abuse of the discovery process. The imposition of lesser sanctions would underrepresent the seriousness of the offensive conduct."

TASER International, Inc. v. PhaZZer Electronics, Inc. et al, 6-16-cv-00366 (FLMD July 21, 2017, Order) (Byron, USDJ)

Monday, July 24, 2017

Defendant Precluded From Offering Deposition of Terminated Expert

​ The court granted plaintiff's motion in limine to preclude defendants from presenting the testimony by deposition of an expert whom they fired because it was unduly prejudicial. "'[D]epriving [plaintiff] of a key opportunity to challenge [the expert's] credibility' would be unfairly prejudicial . . . including [the expert's] role as an employee and then consultant to [defendants], his numerous instances testifying . . . and representations made as to the termination of his relationship with [defendants]. . . . Regardless of whether [defendants] may fairly be viewed as having 'procured' [his] absence, the Court agrees with [plaintiff] that 'it would be unfair to permit [defendants] to secure [the expert's] self-serving testimony . . . and thereafter fire him so that [defendants] can play his deposition to the jury and avoid the specter of his live testimony.' While [plaintiff] took extensive deposition testimony from [the expert] (evidently running to four days), [plaintiff] has had no opportunity to question him regarding his termination, and [defendants'] position would leave [plaintiff] with no fair opportunity to allow the jury to evaluate [his] credibility."

Greatbatch Ltd. v. AVX Corporation et al, 1-13-cv-00723 (DED July 20, 2017, Order) (Stark, USDJ)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Denial of Venue Allegations in Answer Preserves Defendant's Venue Challenge​

The court ordered additional briefing on defendant's motion for judgment on the pleadings of improper venue but found that defendant did not waive its venue defense. "Defendant sufficiently contested and preserved its objection to venue in its Answer. Defendant specifically stated in its answer regarding venue: '[Defendant] denies the allegations of paragraph 10 [referring to paragraph in Complaint asserting proper venue] of the Complaint.' The Magistrate Judge also noted a venue dispute in the Initial Case Management Order. . . . Whether certain acts or omissions operate as a waiver of venue accorded by the general venue statutes also waive venue conferred by the special venue statutes may depend upon the policy behind the specific venue provisions, such as the provision fixing the venue of patent-infringement actions. . . . Courts . . . deviate as to what conduct, even when a venue-challenge is initially raised in an answer, amounts to waiver. . . . In the instant case, the Court finds Defendant sufficiently objected to venue in its Answer and that Defendant took no actions thereafter that would constitute waiver."

JPW Industries, Inc. v. Olympia Tools International Inc., 3-16-cv-03153 (TNMD July 19, 2017, Order) (McCalla, USDJ)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Presence of Third Party Distributor and Regular Product Sales in Forum State are Irrelevant to Determining Regular and Established Place of Business​

Following the Supreme Court decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Grp. Brands LLC, 137 S. Ct. 1514 (2017), the court granted defendant's motion to transfer plaintiff's patent infringement action from the District of South Carolina to the District of Utah for improper venue because defendant did not have a regular and established place of business in South Carolina. "Where [defendant] was founded [Charleston, South Carolina], the identity of its South Carolina customers, and the volume of its sales to South Carolina customers are not relevant to the § 1400(b) venue analysis. The presence of a third-party distributing [defendant's] products also is irrelevant. . . . [Defendant] has a single, recently hired employee who does not make sales or interact with customers in South Carolina and who maintains no inventory in South Carolina. . . . Indeed, that [defendant] is not even licensed to do business in South Carolina is practically dispositive in determining that [defendant] does not conduct business in South Carolina through a 'permanent and continuous presence.'"

Hand Held Products Inc. d/b/a Honeywell Scanning & Mobility et al v. The Code Corporation, 2-17-cv-00167 (SCD July 18, 2017, Order) (Gergel, USDJ)

Failure to Challenge Venue In First Response to Complaint Did Not Waive Defendant’s Venue Objection​

Following the Supreme Court decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Grp. Brands LLC, 137 S. Ct. 1514 (2017), the court granted defendant's motion to transfer plaintiff's patent infringement action from the District of South Carolina to the District of Utah for improper venue and found the defendant did not waive venue by failing to contest the issue in its first response to plaintiff's complaint. "Waiver . . . is an equitable doctrine. . . . Even if in a literal sense it may be said that the law on patent venue has not changed since 1957, it is reasonable that litigants believe TC Heartland is a change in the law. . . . If the present matter were at eve of trial . . . this Court would hold the venue challenge waived. But litigation in this matter has just begun. [Plaintiff] will not be prejudiced by litigating this matter for the first time in a proper venue. It would be inequitable to deny [defendant] the opportunity to seek proper venue, where no prejudice results to Plaintiff, simply because [defendant] missed the venue-challenge deadline by 34 days because it reasonably relied on what nearly every litigant thought was binding precedent governing patent litigation venue for the past 27 years."

Hand Held Products Inc. d/b/a Honeywell Scanning & Mobility et al v. The Code Corporation, 2-17-cv-00167 (SCD July 18, 2017, Order) (Gergel, USDJ)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Server Bandwidth Allocation Patent Not Invalid Under 35 U.S.C. § 101​

The magistrate judge recommended denying defendant's motion to dismiss on the ground that plaintiff’s bandwith allocation patent encompassed unpatentable subject matter because the asserted claims were not directed toward an abstract idea. "Defendants argue the Asserted Claims cover the abstract idea of slowing a delivery by delaying a portion of the delivery, based, in part, on past deliveries. . . . The Asserted Claims are directed to transmitting related data, such as parts of file, at different effective rates, with the second effective rate always being slower than the first. Considered in that light, the claims’ 'character as a whole' is directed to the manner by which data is transmitted between two computer systems -- which is not a law of nature, a natural phenomena, or an abstract idea. And even if the underlying concept is well-known in unrelated fields, Alice's Step 1 requires the Court to focus on the claimed advance over the prior art; Defendants have not produced evidence on that point."

Preferential Networks IP, LLC v. AT&T Mobility, LLC d/b/a AT&T Mobility et al, 2-16-cv-01374 (TXED July 15, 2017, Order) (Payne, MJ)

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Previously Waived Venue Objection Cannot be Revived Via Request to Amend Pleading​

Following the Supreme Court decision in TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Foods Grp. Brands LLC, 137 S.Ct. 1514 (2017), the court denied defendant's motion to amend its answer to add a venue challenge. "In its original Answer to [plaintiff's] Complaint, [defendant] had stated that it 'does not dispute that venue is proper in this judicial district.'. . . [Defendant] thus waived its venue defense. [Defendant's] Motion for Leave, in effect, is an attempt to circumvent this waiver. However, the Advisory Committee Notes are clear that the defenses listed in Rule 12(b)(2)-(5) 'are of such character that they should not be delayed and brought up for the first time by means of an application to the court to amend the responsive pleading.'. . . Allowing [defendant] to amend its Answer to assert improper venue -- after [defendant] specifically stated that venue was proper in its original answer and failed to amend as a matter of course -- would also be unduly prejudicial to [plaintiff], as it would fundamentally alter the nature of the case."

Realtime Data LLC d/b/a IXO v. Barracuda Networks, Inc., 6-17-cv-00120 (TXED July 14, 2017, Order) (Love, MJ)