Congratulations to Chief Judge Castillo and Judge Lefkow who were both honored as 2017 Justice John Paul Stevens awardees earlier this month. The Justice John Paul Stevens award was created by his former clerks to annually honor attorneys that best exemplify Justice Stevens’ commitment to integrity and public service in the practice of law. The … Continue Reading
Effective September 1, 2017, Senior Judge Milton Shadur will retire from the N.D. Illinois bench. Judge Shadur was appointed by President Carter and has served as a federal judge on the Northern District bench for 37 years. Chief Judge Castillo referred to Judge Shadur as a “legend” for his “dedication, . . . remarkable work … Continue Reading
Next week, on March 15, 2017, the Federal Circuit Bar Association and the Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago are hosting an Intellectual Property Law Symposium at the University Club of Chicago from 8:45am until 5:00pm. Register here. Speakers include Northern District of Illinois Judges Castillo, Feinerman, Holderman (Ret.), Kendall, and Pallmeyer; as well … Continue Reading
The Northern District and the Seventh Circuit have altered their hours of operation for the holidays. Both courts will be closed on: December 24, 2015; December 25, 2015; and January 1, 2016 The courts will also close at 3:00 pm on December 31, 2015.… Continue Reading
The Northern District and the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association are seeking nominations (by April 3, 2015) for attorneys who have provided outstanding pro bono and public interest representation in civil and criminal matters before the Northern District that are complete and no longer pending. In the words of the Northern District: The … Continue Reading
Purzel Video GmbH v. Does 1-99, No. 13 C 2501, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 16, 2013) (Gottschall, J.). Judge Gottschall denied various Doe defendants’ motions to quash third party subpoenas to their respective internet service providers (ISPs) as well as motions to sever and dismiss individual Does from this action. This is a BitTorrent … Continue Reading
The Bicycle Peddler, LLC v. Does 1-99, No. 13 C 2375, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Aug. 13, 2013) (Gottschall, J.). Judge Gottschall denied various Doe defendants’ motions to quash third party subpoenas to their respective internet service providers (ISPs) as well as motions to sever and dismiss individual Does from this action. This is a … Continue Reading
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 … Continue Reading
Simonian v. Mead Westvaco Corp., No. 10 C 1217 Slip. Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 1, 2011) (Castillo, J.).
Judge Castillo granted defendant Mead Westvaco's motion to dismiss plaintiff Simonian's false patent marking suit claiming that Mead Westvaco marked envelopes with expired patents. Simonian's general allegation of intent did not meet the Fed. R. Civ. P. 9 (b) heightened pleading standards. In fact, they mirrored the allegations held insufficient in BP Lubricant. And Simonian did not:
· Identify specific Mead Westvaco individuals with knowledge of the alleged false marking;
· Allege that Mead Westvaco sued a third party asserting the patents after they expired; or
· Allege that Mead Westvaco made multiple revisions to the packaging on the markings after the patents expired.
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EnVerve, Inc. v. Unger Meat Co., No 11 C. 472, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Apr. 26, 2011) (Castillo, J.).
Judge Castillo denied plaintiff EnVerve's motion for preliminary injunction in this copyright infringement action involving advertisements. The Court first held that EnVerve had only shown a minimal likelihood of success on the merits:
EnVerve's arguments were "very conclusory" and that "brevity [was] fatal."
There was a significant dispute regarding who owned the copyrights based upon a contract between the parties.
EnVerve's evidence of copying was an unsupported conclusion that defendant use constituted copying.
EnVerve failed to address defendant's best argument - that EnVerve's claim sounded in contract, not copyright.
The Court also held that there was no irreparable harm:
Money damages were an adequate remedy and were readily calculable based upon the contract, EnVerve's invoices and defendant's payments.
EnVerve's claims are reputational harm and defendant's potential insolvency were too speculative to be considered irreparable harm.
… Continue Reading
The patent pilot program started this month in the Northern District and across the country. The pilot program is a ten-year look at ways to handle patent cases more effectively. The main component of the pilot program is judges in pilot districts, including the Northern District, self-selecting as patent judges. Patent cases will continue to be randomly assigned to all Northern District judges. But when a non-patent judge is assigned a patent case that judge will have thirty days to order reassignment of the case. When reassignment is ordered, the case will be randomly reassigned to one of the patent judges. There will also be patent-related education and programs offered for the patent judges across the country.
One unanswered question about the pilot program remains: If a non-patent judge was assigned a patent case less than thirty days before the program kicked off on September 19, can the non-patent judge order the patent case reassigned pursuant to the pilot program? I have not seen it happen yet, but I suspect it could over the next week or two.
The Northern District issued the following list of judges who have self-selected as patent judges:
Chief Judge James F. Holderman
Judge Ruben Castillo
Judge John W. Darrah
Judge Gary S. Feinerman
Judge Virginia Kendall
Judge Matthew F. Kennelly
Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow
Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer
Judge Amy J. St. Eve
Judge James B. Zagel
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Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Inc. v. Tech. Research Group, Inc., No. 09 C 3895, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 28, 2010) (Castillo, J.).
Judge Castillo construed the claim terms in this patent case involving methods for tracking Rolling Spot Currency contracts. Here are constructions of note:
The Court discounted the extrinsic evidence and focused on the intrinsic evidence to construe "principal market marker" as "an entity required to provide the following functions: (1) continuously maintain a two-sided bid/offer market of specified size and spread for its designated product(s); (2) maintain a public order book with respect to these assigned products; and (3) give priority to customer order execution over personal trading. As compensation for the fulfillment of these responsibilities, this entity is to receive priority volume benefits."
Because "computer" had a very apparent ordinary meaning, the Court relied upon dictionaries to define "computer" as "a programmable electronic device that can store, retrieve, and process data."
The preambles of each claim were limiting to the extent they identified a computer and the computer was not identified elsewhere in the claim. Where there was not a computer identified in the body of the claim, the preamble was a necessary aspect of the invention.
"Execute" was defined consistent with its ordinary meaning as "to carry out fully and completely."
The Court refused to define "receive" or "directly receive." But the Court held that doing so would improperly impart a claim limitation from the specification.
"Bid," "offer," "trade," and "order", were all defined based upon their dictionary definitions.
To sustain the validity of the claims, the Court defined "rolling spot" as how plaintiff's Rolling Spot Currency contracts were defined as of the effective filing date.
"Currency futures" were construed based upon financial dictionaries as "contracts in the futures markets that are for delivery in a major currency such as U.S. dollars, British pounds, French francs, German marks, Swiss francs, or Japanese yen."
… Continue Reading
Albecker v. Contour Prods., Inc., No. 09 C 6312, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. May 3, 2010) (Castillo, J.).
Judge Castillo construed the claims in this patent case involving a wedge-shaped backrest and legless leisure chair. Of particular interest, the Court construed the following terms:
"Secured to" was defined as "attached using attachment means" that connect a type cushion to a foundation. The "secured to" definition excluded unitary top cushion foundations. The fact that the Court's definition excluded one embodiment because that embodiment was part of a restriction requirement; and
"face of the generally wedge shaped foundation" was not properly briefed, but the Court held that the face was top surface.
The Court declined to construe other claim terms because the parties told the Court that the construed terms were the key terms.
… Continue Reading
Here are a few stories that do not warrant a full post:
* The mainstream media and the blogosphere are buzzing with predictions of who is on President Obama's shortlist for replacing Justice Souter The Northern District's Judge Castillo and the Seventh Circuit's Judge Wood are both making many of the lists -- check out one list at the Daily Writ. Both excellent choices. Over the weekend, the Chicago Tribune ran a story about a local expectation that someone connected to the University of Chicago would be appointed to the Supreme Court during the Obama presidency. I also wonder if the Northern District's Judge St. Eve is or should be on some shortlists.
* Ronald Slusky is bringing his two-day patent claim drafting seminar to Chicago May 19-20. Slusky promises to teach "a comprehensive approach to analyzing inventions and capturing them in a sophisticated set of patent claims. Through this interactive seminar, participants will enhance their skills in a classroom setting." I have not attended Slusky's seminar myself, so I cannot speak to its value, but it definitely looks interesting.
* Last week the House held hearings about the Patent Reform Act. Check out some commentary on the hearings at Patently-O.
* I got out of the habit of posting each week's Blawg Review, but last week's was both too good and too unique to pass up. Blawg Review #209 is up at John Hochfelder's New York Injury Cases Blog (another LexBlog site) -- read it here. Hochfelder tells the moving story of his father's life, the life of an American hero. Blawg Review #210 is also available at the China Law Blog -- click here to read it. It is also an excellent Review based loosely on the 90th anniversary of China's May 4th Movement.
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Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. v. Guerrero, No. 08 C 2752, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Feb. 19, 2009) (Castillo, J.).
Judge Castillo granted plaintiff summary judgment as to defendants' declaratory judgment counterclaim in this trademark, copyright and contract dispute. Plaintiff licensed its content, including certain copyright and trademark rights, to defendants for use in an online Spanish-language reference site. Because a third party did not provide certain additional content required by the parties' agreement, plaintiff exercised an option to terminate the parties' license agreement and attempted to exercise a purchase option provided for in the agreement. Defendants, however, argued that the agreement did not allow exercise of the purchase agreement for a six year period, which had not yet passed. The Court held that a dispute over the meaning of a contract clause did not necessarily make a contract ambiguous. The Court determined that while the Agreement could be read to support either party, the intent of the agreement was to allow for immediate purchase by plaintiff in the event of termination, regardless of whether or not the termination occurred after the six year period.
… Continue Reading
Helferich Patent Licensing v. ASUStek Computer Inc., No. 08 C 5189, Min. Order (N.D. Ill. Sep. 22, 2008) (Castillo, J.)
Judge Castillo sua sponte dismissed without prejudice plaintiff's patent infringement complaint. The Court held that defendants were foreign entities without business entities in the Northern District. The Court allowed plaintiff to proceed with expedited jurisdictional discovery, and gave plaintiff until December 15 to refile an amended complaint, if they could, with more facts supporting jurisdiction and venue. The Court did not cite the Supreme Court's Twombly decision regarding Fed. R. Civ. P. 8 pleading standards in its brief opinion. But this decision could flow from Twombly's plausibility pleading standards.
… Continue Reading
SMC Corp., Ltd. v. Lockjaw, LLC, __ F. Supp.2d __, 2007 WL 983850 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 3, 2007) (Castillo, J.). Judge Castillo granted plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction, enjoining defendants from breaching the parties’ agreement, unless plaintiff acted in a manner triggering the agreement’s termination provision, and from contacting plaintiff’s customers for any purpose … Continue Reading
Kenall Mfg. Co. v. Genlyte Thomas Group LLC, 439 F. Supp.2d 854 (N.D. Ill. July 20, 2006) (Castillo, J.). Judge Castillo denied opposing infringement and invalidity summary judgment motions in this very detailed and thorough opinion. The opinion is most remarkable for its illustration of two basic, but important, practice tips, which are best understood from the … Continue Reading