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Chicago IP Litigation Tracking Northern District of Illinois IP Cases

Tag Archives: Vanguard Products

Expert Fees Awarded to Prevailing and Losing Parties

Posted in Trial

Se-Kure Controls, Inc. v. Vanguard Prods. Group, Inc., No. 02 C 3767, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jul. 5, 2012) (Castillo, J.).

Judge Castillo awarded costs as to each party in this patent infringement action after the Federal Circuit affirmed Judge Anderson’s entry of judgment in favor of defendants.  The Court awarded defendants costs and expert fees of approximately $32,000 pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(d) and 26(b)(4)(E), and awarded plaintiff Se-Kure approximately $14,000 in expert fees pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(4)(E) to be credited against defendants’ costs.  Of particular interest, the Court ruled as follows:

  • Because the Court held Se-Kure’s patent invalid, defendants were prevailing parties.
  • Defendant’s amended petition was not untimely.  It added costs, but it was filed within thirty days of the Court’s judgment as required by Local Rule 54.1(a).
  • The Court awarded hearing transcript costs up to the relevant Federal Judicial Center allowed cost.  The Court did not award expedited costs because defendants did not provide a justification for the extra cost of the expedited service.
  • The Court awarded the agreed amounts for deposition transcripts.
  • The Court reduced defendants’ copying costs by approximately $3,300 for copy costs after depositions on that were not clearly tied to the case.
  • The Court denied costs for a demonstrative because half of it was blown up portions of text from testimony and exhibits.  The other half was figures at the center of a controversy regarding Defendant’s mischaracterization of evidence.
  • Although the Court had not identified a case within the Seventh Circuit awarding expert fees for depositions to a losing party, the Court held that the language of Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(4)(E) did not limit the award of expert fees to a prevailing party.  So, the Court awarded all parties their expert fees for deposition time, including both reasonable preparation and deposition time.

Answer and Counterclaims Struck Sua Sponte

Posted in Pleading Requirements

Trading Techs. Int’l., Inc. v. CQG, Inc., No. 10 C 718, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 12, 2010) (Shadur, Sen. J.).

Judge Shadur sua sponte struck defendants’ answer and counterclaim with leave to file an amended answer and counterclaim based upon a variety of pleading deficiencies. First, the Court struck statements that the patents-in-suit "speak for [themselves]" and related answers citing State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co. v. Riley, 199 F.R.D. 276, 279 (N.D. Ill. 2001). But the Court granted CQG leave to replead those answers.

The Court also struck several affirmative defenses. CQG’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) defense was struck because it was not an affirmative defense. And no leave to replead was granted because when plaintiff Trading Technologies’ ("TT") allegations were accepted as true CQG’s defense was "simply dead wrong." The Court also struck various affirmative defenses that were only "skeletal recitals" of legal doctrines, with leave to replead if CQG could. Finally, the Court struck CQG’s noninfringement defense because denials in the answer already brought infringement into issue.

The Court also struck CQG’s counterclaim with leave to replead for failure to meet the Twombly/Iqbal pleading standards. Finally, the Court ordered that CGQ’s counsel should not charge CQG for preparing CGQ’s amended answer and counterclaim and should send CQG a copy of the Court’s Order.

Patent Expert Allowed on Limited Subjects

Posted in Experts

Se-Kure Controls, Inc. v. Diam USA, Inc., No. 06 C 4857, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 9, 2009) (Cox, Mag. J.).*

Judge Cox denied plaintiff’s motion to exclude defendants’ patent law expert witness, but placed limits on the expert’s testimony following the reasoning of a previous opinion in a related case about the same expert — click here to read about that opinion in the Blog’s archives. The Court held that a patent expert’s testimony could aid the Court’s understanding of Patent Office procedures and of what would have been material to a reasonable patent examiner. But the patent law expert was not allowed to testify as to any legal conclusions. And the testimony would be given outside the jury’s presence to avoid any prejudice. Because the Court decides inequitable conduct, there was no need for the jury to hear the expert’s testimony.

* Click here for more on this case and related cases in the Blog’s archives. Also, note that the Court continues the progressive use of footnote citation.

Court Awards Exceptional Case Fees for Related TTAB Proceeding

Posted in Trial

Hickory Farms, Inc. v. SnackmastersSnackmasters, Inc., No. 05 C 4541, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Apr. 2, 2008) (Kennelly, J.).

Judge Kennelly awarded defendant approximately $350,000 in attorney’s fees, costs and interest, based upon defendant’s fee petition. The Court previously held that plaintiff’s “Beef Stick” and “Turkey Stick” marks were generic and ordered their cancellation — click here for more on this case in the Blog’s archives. The Court also denied plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration of the genericness decision and held that defendant had a right to its reasonable attorney’s fees and costs because the case was exceptional. There were several noteworthy rulings in the opinion:

  • The Court held that defendant was owned not just its fees from the litigation, but also from the related TTAB because the substantive work and research in the earlier TTAB proceeding formed the core of defendant’s successful motion for summary judgment of genericness. It did not matter that defendant initiated the TTAB proceeding.

  • The Court awarded defendant its attorney’s fees for time spent searching the internet for third party uses of “Beef Stick” and “Turkey Stick.” Internet searching was not clerical work because review of each use of the marks required legal analysis. Furthermore, the Court relied on the fruits of that research in granting summary judgment.

  • The Court denied attorney’s fees for work related to the Seventh Circuit’s mediation program. The Seventh Circuit appeal was a separate proceeding and, therefore, it was not appropriate for the Court to award fees for work done that did not further this case, as the work in the TTAB proceeding did.

  • The Court held that an administrative charge of 4% of an attorney’s billings was reasonable and awarded it as part of attorney’s fees, as opposed to costs. Defendant’s counsel used the 4% administrative charge as a standard billing practice, instead of tracking long-distance telephone, copying, faxing and other incidental charges for each client and case. The Court held that 4% was a modest amount and was an “appropriate device” for estimating fees without incurring substantial overhead for monitoring those fees precisely.

Patent Law Expert Allowed to Opine re Patent Office

Posted in Experts

Se-Kure Controls, Inc. v. Vanguard Prods. Group Inc., No. 02 C 3767, 2008 WL 169054 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 17, 2008) (Cox, Mag. J.).*

Judge Cox denied plaintiff’s motion to exclude defendants’ patent law expert witness, but placed limits on the expert’s testimony. The Court held that a patent expert’s testimony could aid the Court’s understanding of Patent Office procedures and of what would have been material to a reasonable patent examiner. But the patent law expert was not allowed to testify as to any legal conclusions. And the testimony would be given outside the jury’s presence to avoid any prejudice. Because the Court decides inequitable conduct, there was no need for the jury to hear the expert’s testimony.

* Click here for more on this case and related cases in the Blog’s archives. Also, note that this opinion also uses footnote citation.

Court Grants Summary Judgment of Infringement & Denies Invalidity

Posted in Summary Judgment

Vanguard Prods. Group, Inc. v. Diam USA, Inc., No. 05 C 1323, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. May 16, 2007) (Bucklo, J.).*

Judge Bucklo granted plaintiffs summary judgment of infringement and denied defendants summary judgment of invalidity.  The Court first construed the two claim terms at issue — "electrically coupled" and "via the modular connector."  In both cases, the Court adopted the plaintiffs’ construction after a detailed review of the intrinsic and extrinsic evidence.  Because neither term was in the original application or appears in the specification, the intrinsic evidence focused on the use of the terms within the claims.  Defendants also attempted to use claim language from a parent application to support their constructions, but the Court held that the prosecution of a term in a parent application generally does not limit different terms in its progeny.  In the instant case, the Court found that the parent application had used the broader term "electrical connection" instead of "electrically coupled" which weighed against defendants’ construction.  Having ruled in plaintiffs’ favor on the claim construction, the Court held that defendants’ products infringed the asserted claims of plaintiffs’ patents.  And the Court held that defendants’ asserted prior art did not anticipate plaintiffs’ patents.

*  Because I beat Westlaw on this one, you can access a copy of the Court’s opinion here.  Please note that the Court issued a subsequent order modifying the opinion by deleting footnotes three and four, which were not intended to be part of the opinion.