Baxter Int’l, Inc. v. Fresenius Med. Care Holdings, Inc., No. 08 C 2389, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 25, 2008) (Ashman, Mag. J.)
Judge Ashman granted defendants Fresenius’s motion for a stay pending the Federal Circuit appeal of an earlier case between the parties involving related, but not the same, hemodialysis patents. But the Court denied a stay pending an ex parte reexam of plaintiff’s related patents (the same as in the Federal Circuit appeal) and an inter partes reexam of the patents in suit. The reexam of the related patents had only uncertain and limited benefits to the Northern District. Because the patents under reexam were not the patents in suit, there could be no issue preclusion. And any potential streamlining of the case the reexam might achieve was outweighed by the reexam’s potential for extreme delay.
The reexam of the patents in suit was filed, as was the stay motion, early in the case. And the inter partes nature of the proceeding guaranteed that it would streamline the case. But the potential benefits were outweighed by the likelihood for extreme delay. The court cited statistics showing that the average inter partes reexam lasts 6.5 years and that they can last as long as ten years. Finally, the Court noted that in the ten year history of inter partes reexam, no case had progressed through every possible level of examination and appeal.
Finally, the Court held that a stay pending the Federal Circuit’s decision on appeal would benefit the case. The Federal Circuit was reviewing a claim term used in the patents in suit. And the Federal Circuit was reviewing obviousness and validity, both issues that could shape this case. And the Federal Circuit decision was expected within months, in early 2009. So, the delay did not outweigh the benefits.

Continue Reading Court Stays for Federal Circuit Appeal, Not for Reexams

Lorillard Tobacco Co. v. Elston Self Service Wholesale Groceries, Inc., No. 03 C 4753, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. May 13, 2008) (Ashman, Mag. J.).
Judge Ashman granted in part plaintiff Lorillard’s motion to strike defendant Elston’s expert report. Lorillard alleged that Elston, in violation of the Lanham Act and state law, knowingly bought and sold counterfeit Newport cigarettes. Elston offered an expert to opine on three general subjects: (1) customs and practices in the cigarette industry; (2) Elston’s cigarette purchasing history; and (3) whether the prices of the allegedly counterfeit cigarettes would have made it obvious to Elston that the cigarettes were counterfeit.
The Court held that the expert’s seven years in the cigarette industry and subsequent consulting were sufficient to qualifying him as an expert in the custom and practice of the industry. But the Court struck the remainder of the expert’s opinions. His opinions regarding Elston’s purchasing history were based solely on produced documents. And the jury could glean the same information from its review of the documents. The expert’s opinions regarding Elston’s subjective reaction to the price difference were struck because they were beyond both the expert’s expertise and his personal knowledge.

Continue Reading Opinions Beyond Expert’s Expertise Struck

Amari Co. v. Burgess, No. 07 C 1425, ___ F.Supp.2d ___, 2008 WL 656072 (N.D. Ill. May 7, 2008) (Ashman, Mag. J.).
Judge Ashman denied plaintiff Amari Co.’s motion for a protective order to prevent defendants’ alleged intimidation of Amari’s non-party witnesses in this Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (“RICO”). Amari argued, among other things,* that defendants were intimidating ex-employees of former defendant International Profits Associates (“IPA”), which was run by defendants, by threatening to enforce confidentiality agreements signed by all IPA employees.
The Court held that it could not grant Amari its requested relief for two reasons. First, to be effective the injunction would have had to enjoin non-party IPA from suing its ex-employees to enforce the agreements. The Court could not enjoin IPA without proof it was working in concert with defendants or that IPA was defendants’ alter ego. And before enjoining IPA, IPA would have to be given notice of the motion and an opportunity to respond.
Second, Amari sought a blanket injunction from enforcing the agreements against IPA’s ex-employees, but did not allege that the agreement was unenforceable. While confidentiality agreements cannot be used to hide a company’s potential impropriety, they can be used to protect proprietary information. Without identification of specific ex-employees allegedly threatened with a suit, the Court could not determine whether IPA might have been using the confidentiality agreement for enforceable or unenforceable ends. And if Amari identified a specific individual, it could subpoena them, removing the need for an injunction.
*Amari alleged other forms of intimidation, but they are not related to IP and are, therefore, not discussed in this post.

Continue Reading Threat to Enforce Confidentiality Provision Not Intimidation

Watts v. Cypress Hill, No. 06 C 3348, 2008 WL 697356 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 12, 2008) (Ashman, Mag. J.).
Judge Ashman struck plaintiffs’ expert report pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(c)(1). Plaintiffs’ authored the song “Is It Because I’m Black” in 1968. Plaintiffs’ alleged that defendants, the musical group Cypress Hill (click here for some of the group’s music on their MySpace page), infringed their copyright in the song by using parts of it in their Black Sunday album. Cypress Hill contended that plaintiffs sold the copyright pursuant to a 1969 songwriters contract. Plaintiffs argued that the contract was a fraud.
Plaintiffs submitted an expert report (the “Report”) to support that the contract was fraudulent. In six paragraphs, the expert stated that he ran various tests and concluded that the 1969 contract was a fraud because it was printed and signed by an inkjet printer — inkjet printers were developed in the 1970s or 1980s. When Cypress Hill complained that the Report was incomplete, plaintiffs supplemented it with pictures of the testing.
But the Court held that the supplemented Report was not sufficient because it did not explain the expert’s methodology. There was no way to know how the expert translated data into conclusions. And no reputable rebuttal expert could test the expert’s methodology or opine that the data was misinterpreted. It did not matter that the missing information could likely be obtained in a deposition. Rule 26 requires that an expert report include “the basis and reasons” for the expert’s opinions. Because the Report did not disclose the expert’s methodology and reasoning, and because Cypress Hill was prejudiced by the late-served, incomplete Report, the Court struck the Report.

Continue Reading Court Strikes Incomplete Expert Report

Wunderlich-Malec Sys., Inc. v. Eisenmann Corp., No. 05 C 04343, 2006 WL 3370700 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 17, 2006) (Ashman, Mag. J.).

Magistrate Judge Ashman granted plaintiff’s motion to compel certain documents and held that defendant waived privilege as to certain documents it produced despite claiming attorney-client and work product privileges.  Defendant produced for inspection twenty two binders of documents, including four binders which defendant’s counsel had internally identified as privileged and did not intend to produce for inspection.  About six weeks after the inspection, defendant realized that it had provided certain of these documents to plaintiff and sought the return of seventeen pages from the four binders.  Then, over the next several weeks, defendant sought the return of the remainder of the produced documents from the four binders claiming that they contained privileged information or trade secrets unrelated to the case.  Plaintiff retained the bulk of the documents arguing that any privilege that existed had been waived by disclosure of the documents.  Defendant argued that the documents were disclosed inadvertently and should be returned.Continue Reading Privilege Logs Bolster Inadvertent Production Arguments

Litetronics Int’l., Inc. v. Technical Consumer Prods., Inc., No. 03 C 5733, 2006 WL 2850514 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 28, 2006) (Ashman, Mag. J.).

Defendant sought sanctions pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 37 arguing spoliation of evidence because plaintiff Coollite sold a factory in China which included various documents defendant had requested during discovery.