Turina v. Crawley, No. 10 C 4292, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Feb. 16, 2012) (Darrah, J.).

Judge Darrah granted pro se defendant summary judgment as to plaintiff’s copyright claims and dismissed plaintiff’s remaining state law claims for lack of jurisdiction.  As an initial matter, the Court treated those portions of defendant’s response that disputed

Judge Dow granted defendants summary judgment of invalidity based upon several prior art references in this patent case involving color combinations for a printing system. As an initial matter, the Court excluded the following for failure to comply with Local Rule 56.1:
Legal conclusions or unsupported statements of fact;
Denials without proper factual support were deemed admitted;
Any additional facts in a brief, but not in a Rule 56.1 statement as supplemental statements; and
Facts shoe-horned into Rule 56.1 responses.
Of particular note:
The Court denied plaintiff’s motion to strike defendant’s supplemental expert declaration. While the reports included new opinions, plaintiffs were not prejudiced because the declarations were served during discovery and before the depositions of the experts.
While the Court could have stopped its analysis after the first piece of art invalidated the remaining claims, the Court analyzed each piece of art for the sake of completeness.

Continue Reading Facts Shoe-Horned into Local Rule 56.1 Responses are Disregarded

International Tax Advisors, Inc. v. Tax Law Assocs., LLC, No. 08 C 2222, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Feb. 15, 2011) (Valdez, Mag. J.)
Judge Valdez denied plaintiffs’ (collectively “ITA”) motion for summary judgment, and granted defendants’ (collectively “TLA”) motion for summary judgment as to ITA’s copyright claim, and chose not to retain supplemental jurisdiction over ITA’s remaining state law claims. While ITA may have had evidence to support its copyright claim, it did not properly cite to that evidence via its Local Rule 56.1 statement of uncontested material facts. And to the extent ITA cited directly to evidence it did so generally by description, without exhibit numbers or specific page cites.
The Court granted TLA summary judgment of noninfringement because ITA did not properly cite to facts in its Local Rule 56.1 statement showing a question of material fact.
The Court also granted TLA summary judgment as to ITA’s RICO claim because ITA only alleged one of the required two predicate acts.
Finally, the Court declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining claims.

Continue Reading Summary Judgment Granted Based Upon Failure to Comply With Rule 56.1

Several significant trends are developing as I read this year’s N. D Illinois patent decisions. The trends are largely, although not all, Chicago-specific. And they appear to be largely influenced by the not-so-new Local Patent Rules.
Faster Settlement Times. Patent cases are settling faster. While the economy may still be playing a role, I believe that the LPR 2 initial contentions are driving early settlements. When parties take them seriously and make their best early cases, it is causing opponents to reconsider their positions and driving earlier settlements. Maybe more importantly, armed with more substantive analysis up-front, parties are talking more and more settlement discussions lead to more settlements. No doubt this is one of the impacts that the Court expected when it developed the LPR 2 initial contentions.
False Patent Marking is Dying. In early 2010, the Northern District was among the top three districts for false patent marking filings, in particular those cases brought by marking trolls (non-competitors in the defendant’s industry). Unlike the Eastern District of Texas (which applied Rule 8 notice pleading to the intent requirement), the Northern District was split with many judges applying Rule 9 heightened pleading and a few applying Rule 8 notice pleading. That slowed the flow of cases to a degree, but what seems to have finished them is a combination of the Federal Circuit’s BP Lubricants decision (requiring Rule 9(b) pleading for the intent requirement) and a decision this spring holding that corporate intent was not recognized in the Seventh Circuit, so the required intent must be shown in at least one employee, officer or agent of the corporation.
LR 56.1 Summary Judgment Decisions are on the Decline. There seem to be fewer decisions granting or denying summary judgment for failure to comply with the Local Rule 56.1 requirements for statements of material facts. Having tracked five years worth of intellectual property summary judgment decisions chastising parties for failure to comply with Local Rule 56.1, I cannot imagine that there is a trend toward strict compliance with Local Rule 56.1. Furthermore, this does not appear to be true in the trademark, copyright or trade secret realms. So, my suspicion is that this trend is really about fewer summary judgment decisions. And there are fewer summary judgment decisions for at least two reasons: 1) earlier settlement which avoids summary judgment motions; and 2) the Local Patent Rule 6.1 comment that judges have discretion to delay “early” summary judgment motions until the end of the discovery and the LPR 1.1 authority to delay motions raising claim construction issues until after the claim construction opinion issues.

Continue Reading N. D. Illinois 2011 Patent Trends

Healix Infusion Therapy, Inc. v. HHI Infusion Servs., Inc., No. 10 C 3772, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 27, 2011) (Zagel, J.).
Judge Zagel denied plaintiff Healix’s motion for summary judgment as to defendant HHI’s alleged tortious interference and denied HHI’s motion to dismiss Healix’s tortious interference claim. The motion to dismiss was premised upon application of Washington law, but the Court held that Texas law applied and the claim was properly plead.
Regarding summary judgment, both parties “cried foul” as to the other’s Local Rule 56.1 compliance. The Court held that both parties were correct. But in light of the mutual non-compliance, the Court considered the substance of the motion, instead of resolving it on procedural grounds. Additionally, the Court held that emails offered as evidence were admissible over a hearsay objection as business records pursuant to FRE 803(6). Finally, the Court held that there was a question of fact as to whether HHI’s alleged interference was willful and intentional.

Continue Reading Mutual Non-Compliance With Local Rule 56.1 Avoids Procedural Grant or Denial

Eazypower Corp. v. Jore Corp., No. 04 C 6372, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct. 20, 2010) (Zagel, J.).
Judge Zagel denied defendant Jore’s (“Jore”) motion for summary judgment of invalidity in this patent dispute regarding screwdrivers with flexible extension shafts. As a preliminary matter, plaintiff Eazypower repeatedly failed to comply with Local Rule 56.1 regarding statements of material fact. Despite that, the Court accepted Eazypower’s additional facts and responses to Jore’s statements of fact because Jore had sufficient opportunity to respond to them.
Jore argued that a particular screwdriver with a flexible extension shaft, the FB-19, was sold in the United States in the mid-1980s and was invalidating prior art. Eazypower did not dispute that the FB-19 taught each element of the identified patent claims. But Eazypower did dispute that the FB-19 was in fact prior art. First, Eazypower argued that Jore had not sufficiently corroborated its evidence that the FB-19 was sold in the United States in the mid-1980s. Jore’s corroborating evidence – several third parties with knowledge – was sufficient. But there was evidence conflicting with Jore’s position. An age analysis of the FB-19 packaging suggested that it had been built in the late 1970s or early 1980s, but it also showed traces of an adhesive that was not available in the mid-1980s. Additionally, Eazypower showed that relevant shipping records for the period did not show any sales or import of FB-19s. The Court, therefore, held that there was a question of material fact and denied summary judgment.

Continue Reading Lack of Documentation Regarding Use at the Relevant Time Prevents Summary Judgment

This is the third installment of my twenty five tips for Northern District of Illinois litigation practice, with a focus on IP litigation. The tips are gleaned from my practice in the Northern District, my time as a law clerk for the Hon. Gordon J. Quist in the Western District of Michigan, and my reading of all of the Northern District of Illinois intellectual property opinions over the last four years. As you read them, let me know if you come up with others. I will be glad to include them as I go. Here are tips eleven through fifteen:
11. Respect Twombly / Iqbal pleading standards. The Northern District is no different than the rest of the country’s district courts — patent infringement requirements have not changed from the form in the Federal Rules. But that is not necessarily the case for Lanham Act, copyright or trade secret claims. There are numerous decisions dismissing, often with leave to amend, these more fact-specific intellectual property claims. And even in the patent context plaintiffs benefit from pleading with more particularlity. The more detail a defendant has the more information they should disclose about their accused products or systems as part of their Local Patent Rule 2.1(b) initial disclosure document production requirements. That means that the plaintiff will have more material with which to prepare its Local Patent Rule 2.2 intial infringement contentions. Finally, regardless of the type of claim, many and perhaps most judges rely upon Twombly / Iqbal to require more than a bare recitation of the elements of affirmative defenses. So, it is especially important to add some facts to your affirmative defenses.
12. Prepare Local Rule 56.1 statements with care. This is probably the most frequent Local Rule hang up in Northern District of Illinois opinions. It is critical that movants meet the Local Rule 56.1 requirements, among others, a numbered statement of undisputed material facts supported by admissible evidence. If the facts are not supported or if they are legal conclusions, judges routinely strike or disregard them.
13. Respond to Local Rule 56.1 statements with evidence. Far too often, parties respond to Local Rule 56.1 statements without evidence. Those responses are almost always deemed admissions. Without admissibile evidence to counter statements of fact they are almost always admitted.
14. Watch your judge’s webpage. Each judge maintains the equivalents of standing orders on their webpage, often in multiple places and links across the page. It is critical that you read them at the beginning of your case and that you recheck them regularly. At a minimum, check them before you file anything with the Court. I find that the website instructions change with much greater frequency than the old, paper standing orders did. And while judges try to make it easy to see what they change, if you are not looking you will miss it.
15. Always file notices of motion. In some districts, notices of motions are not required or even discouraged. In the Northern District of Illinois, they are required of every motion. If you fail to file one, you will likely hear from the Clerk’s office. Also, make sure to file the notice after the motion, not before. If you file the notice before the motion, you will generally have to refile it.

Continue Reading Northern District of Illinois Practice Tips Nos. 11-15

Eva’s Bridal Ltd. v. Halanick Enterprises, Inc., No. 07 C 1668, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. May 19, 2010) (Darrrah, J.).
Judge Darrah granted in part defendants’ and denied plaintiffs’ summary judgment motions in this Lanham Act case over the use of the name “Eva’s Bridal.” The Court granted defendants’ summary judgment as to plaintiffs’ trademark infringement claim because plaintiffs presented no evidence that they federally registered the “Eva’s Bridal” trademark.
Plaintiffs’ Lanham Act unfair competition and trademark dilution claims did not require a federally registered trademark. But because the mark was not registered, plaintiffs had the burden of proving ownership of the mark. Plaintiffs created at least a question of fact as to ownership with evidence that plaintiffs’ business was a continuation of the original use of the mark. And because the mark was based upon a first name and not a last name the mark was not necessarily descriptive. The Court, therefore, held there was a question of fact as to whether the mark was descriptive.
Defendants agreed that plaintiffs abandoned the mark by licensing it without maintaining any quality control. Plaintiffs, however, presented sufficient evidence of control to create a question of fact.
Defendants’ argument that plaintiffs had not shown a likelihood of confusion was not relevant to a dilution analysis. And defendants’ argument that the Eva’s Bridal mark was not famous failed because it was not developed. Defendants’ argument was a single sentence without elaboration or support.
There was also a question of fact as to defendants’ laches and acquiescence claims. Plaintiffs cited evidence that during the alleged delay the parties engaged in various negotiations and defendants made various payments.
Finally, the Court denied plaintiffs’ summary judgment motion. Plaintiffs failed to comply with Local Rule 56.1(a)(3) requiring a statement of uncontested material facts supported by admissible evidence. Plaintiffs’ statements were largely taken verbatim from its amended complaint, were largely irrelevant to the summary judgment issues and were largely not supported by cites to the record. The Court, therefore, denied plaintiffs’ motion without analyzing it on the merits.

Continue Reading Summary Judgment Denied for Failure to Comply With Rule 56.1 Statement of Facts

Minemyer v. B-Roc Reps., Inc., No. 07 C 1763, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct. 27, 2009) (Cole, Mag. J.)*
Judge Cole granted summary judgment of invalidity based upon the §102(b) on-sale bar and denied summary judgment as to invalidity based upon §102(b) public use and obviousness.
Priority Date
Plaintiff argued that its pipe coupler patent was entitled to the priority date of its provisional application because the provisional application disclosed in the drawings the tapered threads at issue, although they were not described in the specification. The Court held that figures showing tapered threads would be sufficient, but that the figures did not show tapered threads. Plaintiff alleged that enlargements of the figures showed a 1% taper. But the Court held that the original drawing did not “convey” the tapered threads with “reasonable clarity.” Even the enlargement showed “no true tapers.” Because the provisional application did not disclose the taper, the patent’s priority date was its filing date.
On-Sale Bar
The Court held that plaintiff admitted he offered the patented couplers for sale more than one year before the filing date, also known as the critical date. Plaintiff also admitted both in interrogatory responses and at deposition that his invention had been reduced to practice at the time of the offer. Plaintiff claimed that the use was experimental, but the court held that the claim was not properly supported by evidence in plaintiff’s Local Rule 56.1 statement of material facts.
Public Use Bar
The Court denied summary judgment based upon the public use bar. The alleged prior art device was asserted against other claims in defendants’ invalidity contentions, but not against the claim at issue, claim 12. Furthermore, the evidence of the alleged prior art coupler was provided by a witness that was not disclosed in defendants’ Rule 26 disclosures or their interrogatory responses. He was first identified in a subpoena at the end of fact discovery.
Defendant’s obviousness arguments were based upon the same prior art as the public use bar prior art. So, summary judgment was not appropriate for similar reasons. Additionally, defendants arguments were cursory and did not even cite case law.
* Click here for more on this case in the Blog’s archives.

Continue Reading Patent Disclosure Includes the Specification and the Drawings

Here are a few stories you do not want to miss:
The Wisconsin Law Journal has an article based upon a Northern District of Illinois case in which a summary judgment decision hinged upon a failure to substantively answer one of the other party’s Local Rule 56.1 statements of material fact. In that case, a procedural objection was made, but no substantive answer was given. So, when the objection was denied, the fact was deemed admitted. This is a point I have made often: follow Local Rule 56.1 closely and carefully.
The Blog of the Legal Times reported that in a recent interview the Federal Circuit’s Chief Judge Michel suggested that the next nominees to the Federal Circuit should have the following backgrounds: a patent-experienced district judge; a trial lawyer with patent experience; or a chief corporate lawyer with patent experience.

Continue Reading Patent & Procedure News