Author: Charles H. Chevalier

Citing Need for Claim Construction, DNJ Court Denies Defendant’s Motion for Judgment on Pleadings

In Tolmar Therapeutics, Inc. v. Foresee Pharmaceuticals Co., Ltd., the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey recently denied the defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, reasoning that the motion could not be decided without claim construction. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant’s product CAMCEVI® infringes the plaintiff’s patent, which also covers the plaintiff’s Eligard® product. Both products are approved prostate cancer medications. Claim 1 of the patent-in-suit is directed to a controlled release composition that includes a polymer with an alkane diradical that comprises “about 4 to about 8 carbons.” The defendant moved for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) arguing (1) that the term “about 4 to about 8 carbons” in the patent-in-suit meant that the defendant’s use of 12 carbons (see, e.g., ECF No. 39 at 1) in its product could not literally infringe; and (2) that the plaintiff could not rely on the doctrine of equivalents, because the use of the term “about” in the claims limited the applicability of the doctrine of equivalents and because of the disclosure-dedication rule. In denying the defendant’s motion, United States District Judge Evelyn Padin reasoned that both the plaintiff’s literal infringement and doctrine of equivalents theories required the court to construe the term “about 4...

DNJ Court Denies Request for Early Summary Judgment Finding Motion Made Mid-Fact Discovery Premature

In Metacel Pharmaceuticals LLC v. Rubicon Research Private Limited, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey recently denied the defendant’s request for leave to file a motion for summary judgment with respect to patent infringement. The plaintiff opposed the motion arguing that discovery was ongoing, and, in particular, the defendant had not yet produced certain samples necessary for the plaintiff to evaluate infringement. The plaintiff also argued there were also claim construction issues in the case that had not been resolved. The defendant’s motion was filed approximately two months before the parties’ opening claim construction briefs were due and, per the case’s scheduling order (ECF No. 25), fact discovery was to conclude 30 days after the court’s claim construction opinion. Agreeing with the plaintiff’s position, United States Magistrate Judge José R. Almonte found the defendant’s motion was “premature” and concluded that motions for summary judgment should be filed after claim construction. Gibbons will continue to monitor and report developments in Hatch-Waxman litigation in the District of New Jersey.

District of New Jersey Denies Motion to Amend Invalidity Contentions, Citing Defendant’s Lack of Diligence and Timeliness in Filing Motion

In Razor USA LLC v. DGL Group, Ltd., the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey recently denied a defendant’s motion to amend its invalidity contentions to include an additional written description argument. The case involves utility and design patents pertaining to a hoverboard. After learning that the design patent issued with drawings had previously been rejected by the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) (as opposed to those that the PTO later approved), the defendant sought to add an argument that the design patent was invalid pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 112(a) for the same reasons that the PTO had previously rejected the published drawings. The defendant asserted that it learned about this “new” defense after the plaintiff’s expert stated in a declaration that he had reviewed the prosecution history of the design patent, which prompted the defendant’s own investigation of the prosecution history. In evaluating whether the defendant’s application met the requirements of Local Patent Rule 3.7, the court looked to the defendant’s diligence and the timeliness of the motion. The court concluded that both were lacking. With respect to diligence, the “dominant consideration” in the motion to amend, the court concluded that the defendant had failed to act with the requisite diligence in discovering the information it sought to add...

Court Denies Motion to Amend Invalidity Contentions, Citing Defendant’s Failure to Show When It Could Have Discovered New Information

In MicroVention, Inc. v. Balt USA, LLC, the United States District Court for the Central District of California recently denied a defendant’s motion to amend its invalidity contentions to add additional written description and enablement arguments, finding a lack of diligence by the defendant. The court, which in patent cases “follows a schedule similar to that imposed by the Northern District of California,” emphasized the diligence that must be shown to warrant a party amending its invalidity contentions. Specifically, the court noted that “‘[t]he critical issue is not when [the party] discovered [the] information, but rather whether [it] could have discovered it earlier had it acted with the requisite diligence.’” (quoting Google, Inc. v. Netlist Inc., 2020 WL 1838693, at *2 (N.D. Cal. May 5, 2010)). As we recently reported, the District of New Jersey “adopted verbatim [its] Local Patent Rules from the Northern District of California.” TFH Publ’n, Inc. v. Doskocil Mfg. Co., 705 F. Supp. 2d 361, 365 (D.N.J. 2010). The court found that one of the defendant’s proposed amendments was based on the claim construction position the plaintiff had taken during the claim construction phase of the case. However, the court recognized that the plaintiff’s claim construction had not changed since the beginning of the case and, on that basis, found that...

Expert Report Cannot Be Used for Previously Undisclosed Invalidity Theories

The United States District Court for the Central District of California recently granted a plaintiff’s motion to strike portions of the defendant’s expert report for the untimely disclosure of new invalidity theories that were not previously disclosed in the defendant’s invalidity contentions. In Nichia Corporation v. Feit Electric Company, Inc., the plaintiff sought to strike from the defendant’s expert report: (1) an entirely new reference; (2) two new obviousness theories based on combinations of references not included in the defendant’s final invalidity contentions; and (3) a new written description argument. In ruling, the court highlighted the district’s Standing Patent Rules’ emphasis on “early notice” of infringement and validity contentions, that amendments to contentions require diligence by the moving party and that new infringement and invalidity theories cannot be introduced through expert reports. The Standing Patent Rules that the parties were following were initially set forth by Judge Guilford of the Central District of California. It has been noted that “Judge Guilford’s Standing Patent Rules are similar to the Local Patent Rules adopted by the Northern District of California.” Mort. Grader, Inc. v. First Choice Loan Servs. Inc., 811 F.3d 1314, 1321(Fed. Cir. 2016). And, relatedly, the District of New Jersey “adopted verbatim [its] Local Patent Rules from the Northern District of California.” TFH Publ’n, Inc....

28 Days to Amend Contentions Following Disclosure of Preliminary Claim Constructions

In an interesting decision applying California’s Local Patent Rules, Northern District of California District Court Judge William Alsup held that “after receiving the other side’s preliminary claim construction disclosure under Rule 4-2, a party in a patent litigation must move promptly to disclose any back-up contentions it may wish (or eventually wish) to make for its infringement or invalidity case, in the event the other side’s claim construction is thereafter adopted or else any such back-up contentions will be deemed waived. Promptly means within 28 days at the latest.” Fluidigm Corp., et al. v. IONpath, Inc. at 4. Judge Alsup’s decision was his answer to “the question of the extent to which our patent local rules require infringement and invalidity contentions to set forth not only a party’s primary theory but also its backup theory in case its opponent’s claim construction prevails.” Id. at 1. In answering that question, Judge Alsup provided a brief exposition on California’s Local Patent Rules. “Before our local patent rules, parties struggled to determine the opposing party’s theory of liability via discovery requests, such as contentions interrogatories.” Id. at 6. The adoption of local patent rules “replaced the bone-crushing burden of scrutinizing and investigating discovery responses with the parties’ infringement and invalidity contentions.” In alleviating that burden, local patent rules...

Paragraph IV to Paragraph III Conversion Does Not Deprive a District Court of Subject Matter Jurisdiction in Hatch-Waxman Cases

In a significant Hatch-Waxman decision, a Delaware District Court recently denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), rejecting the argument that the conversion of the defendants’ Paragraph IV certifications to Paragraph III certifications deprived the court of subject matter jurisdiction, but granted the defendants’ motion for partial judgment on the pleadings under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c). In H. Lundbeck A/S v. Apotex Inc., the defendants converted their Paragraph IV certifications for certain patents at issue to Paragraph III certifications. Under 21 U.S.C. § 355(j)(2)(A)(viii), an ANDA filer must make any one of four (I-IV) certifications for each Orange Book listed patent. A Paragraph IV certification is an ANDA filer’s statement that it intends to market its bioequivalent pharmaceutical product before the expiration of a patent listed as covering that product because the ANDA filer believes such patent is either not infringed or invalid. A Paragraph III certification is an ANDA filer’s statement that it will not market its bioequivalent product until after the expiration of a patent listed as covering that product. The Court reasoned that in a Hatch-Waxman action, subject matter jurisdiction exists when a patent owner alleges that the filing of an ANDA infringes its patent under 35 U.S.C. § 271(e)(2) and conversion from a...

“Good Cause” Not Required for Contention Amendments in the District of Delaware

In Bio Delivery Sciences International Incorporated v. Alvogen PB Research & Development LLC, a Delaware District Court recently denied the plaintiffs’ motion to strike two prior art references from the defendants’ supplemental invalidity contentions, reasoning that the defendants were not obligated, as the plaintiffs argued, to demonstrate good cause for the amendment. The court noted that the case’s scheduling order did not contain a “good cause” requirement for amending contentions or a requirement that contentions be amended before the date on which the defendants served their amended contentions. The court reasoned that, while the amended contentions did need to comport with the requirements of Fed. R. Civ. P. 26, an analysis under the Pennypack factors did not require striking the references. In particular, the “possibility of curing the prejudice” and “likelihood of disruption of trial” factors militated strongly in the defendants’ favor because the plaintiffs did not need further discovery on the references and could address them easily in their expert reports, which would not have any impact on the trial date. Interestingly, had these defendants been litigating in the District of New Jersey they would have been obligated to demonstrate “good cause,” where Local Patent Rule 3.7 requires a showing of “good cause” for any party to amend “contentions, disclosures, or other documents required...

Plaintiffs’ Local Patent Rule 3.2(b) Document Production Sufficient to Support an “Invention Date” Predating a Disclosed “Priority Date”

Applying the plain language of the District of New Jersey’s Local Patent Rules, Chief Judge Wolfson recently ruled in Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corp. v. Sandoz Inc., that the plaintiffs were not precluded from asserting an “invention date” derived from their Local Patent Rule 3.2(b) disclosures that differed from the “priority date” expressly disclosed in their Local Patent Rule 3.1(f) contention disclosures. Local Patent Rule 3.1(f) requires that infringement contentions disclose, “[f]or any patent that claims priority to an earlier application, the priority date to which asserted claim is allegedly entitled.” Local Patent Rule 3.2 governs the document production that must accompany Local Patent Rule 3.1 disclosures and Local Patent Rule 3.2(b) requires the production of “[a]ll documents evidencing the conception, reduction to practice, design, and development of each claimed invention, which were created on or before the date of application for the patent in suit or the priority date identified pursuant to L. Pat. R. 3.1(f), whichever is earlier.” An “invention date” and a “priority date” have distinct meanings in patent law. An “invention date” is the date when the inventor conceived the invention and reduced it to practice and the “priority date” is the filing date of the earliest patent application to which the patents-in-suit are entitled. The plaintiffs’ Local Patent Rule 3.1(f) infringement...