Carrier Corporation v. Goodman Global Inc. et al, 1-12-cv-00930 (DED August 14, 2014, Order) (Robinson, J.)
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
No Summary Judgment Based on Late Disclosed Noninfringement Argument
The court denied defendant's motion for summary judgment of noninfringement of plaintiff's HVAC patent. "[Defendant] argues that it cannot be liable for direct infringement because it only sells individual HVAC units, not HVAC systems, and the [patent-in-suit] requires an HVAC system that is operational. . . . [I]t was not until 11:19 p.m. on the last day of fact discovery . . . that [defendant] added this contention as a defense, by supplementing its interrogatory response on non-infringement. . . . The parties are represented by highly regarded patent lawyers. How can it be that a fundamental contention - defendant does not sell the accused system - was not even identified by either party until the last minutes of fact discovery? Indeed, the record is bereft of all meaningful evidence relating to this issue, with [plaintiff] arguing that it had no notice of the contention and, therefore, no opportunity to pursue related discovery, and [defendant] arguing that it had no responsibility to give any more notice of its defense than it did because it is [plaintiff's] ultimate responsibility to prove direct infringement. . . . [Defendant] equivocated and failed to provide any evidence (like sales figures) that could have alerted [plaintiff] to the issue. [Defendant] did not play by the rules; therefore, it must suffer the consequences. [Defendant's] motion for summary judgment is denied in this regard. The court will address at the pretrial conference whether [defendant] will be precluded from presenting such a defense at trial."