Chamberlain Group v. Lear Corp., No. 05 C 3449, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Mar. 1, 2011) (Posner, J.).
Judge Posner, sitting by designation, ordered a series of pre-trial deadlines in this garage door opener patent case. The following deadlines were of particular note:
All objections to exhibits were to be in the form of motions in limine, not one-word objections.
Exhibits were limited to what could fit into one binder per side.
The Court was to draft jury instructions and voir dire.

Continue Reading Parties Limited to One Binder of Trial Exhibits Per Side

The Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Lear Corp., No. 05 C 3449, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Nov. 24, 2010) (St. Eve, J.).
Judge St. Eve ruled on the parties’ numerous summary judgment motions in this patent case involving garage door opener remote control technology.* The Court first addressed the controlling claim constructions. Judge Moran previously construed the claim terms, but on appeal those constructions were amended by the Federal Circuit. Plaintiffs argued that the Federal Circuit’s constructions were not binding and were open to further construction. But the Court held that the Federal Circuit’s constructions were the law of the case and were binding upon the parties. Because plaintiffs’ arguments for summary judgment of infringement were premised upon its own claim constructions, and not the Federal Circuit’s constructions, those motions were denied.
Next the Court considered whether there was a question of fact that the accused devices used “binary code” as required by the patents. The parties agreed that an absence of binary code would require a finding of noninfringement. But the parties disputed whether defendant Lear’s accused products used binary code. Ultimately the battle of the parties’ experts created a question of material fact precluding summary judgment of either infringement or noninfringement.
The Court granted plaintiffs summary judgment as to Lear’s argument that the asserted claims were not directed to patentable subject matter. Lear argued that plaintiffs’ claims simply covered algorithms, but the cases were directed to devices that were by definition not just algorithms.
Plaintiffs were also granted summary judgment as to Lear’s claim that plaintiff’s committed inequitable conduct by failing to disclose a particular patent to the Patent Office as prior art. Plaintiffs had provided the art to a prior examiner, in a parent application. Once a patent applicant submits prior art in a parent application, that art is considered disclosed in any progeny applications.
* Click here for much more on the case in the Blog’s archives.

Continue Reading Federal Circuit’s Claim Constructions Control in Remanded Patent Case

Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Lear Corp., No. 05 C 3449, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Nov. 8, 2010) (Denlow, Mag. J.).
Judge Denlow granted in part defendant Lear’s motion for sanctions in this patent case regarding universal garage door openers. Plaintiff Johnson Controls (“JCI”) received an anonymous email from someone calling themselves “Kova Kova,” offering documents regarding Lear’s development of the accused garage door opener. JCI questioned the anonymous emailer as to the confidentiality and ethical obligations that might surround the offered documents. But despite not receiving a direct answer, JCI eventually met with Kova Kova and received emailed documents from Kova Kova. JCI, however, testified that it never opened the documents, sent as email attachments. JCI also suggested by email that it would consider offering Kova Kova an engineering position and tuition reimbursement, but in a later email made clear it would not pay Kova Kova for testimony or documents, although it would retain Kova Kova counsel.
While JCI’s offers of a job and tuition were close, they were not a bribe. Chamberlain never explicitly offered any remuneration for testimony or documents. And immediately after mentioning an engineering position and tuition, JCI sent an email making clear that it would not pay for testimony or documents. JCI did, however, violate its duties by waiting more than nine months to produce Kova Kova’s emails and documents. While that violation did not warrant dismissing the case as Lear requested, it did warrant exclusion of any evidence from or related to Kova Kova, including his testimony, and JCI’s payment of Lear’s attorney’s fees related to the motion.

Continue Reading Failure to Timely Disclose Third Party Witness Contacts Prevents Testimony

Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Lear Corp., No. 05 C 3449, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Sep. 10, 2010) (St. Eve, J.).
Judge St. Eve denied defendant Lear’s motion to amend its complaint adding new inequitable conduct defenses. While leave to amend is freely granted and delay alone is usually not enough to deny leave, Courts retain discretion to deny leave to amend. In this case, Lear waited until after fact discovery closed in this five-year-old case to seek leave to amend. And without explanation, Lear appeared in court three times and eight entries were added to the docket between the depositions in which Lear allegedly discovered the inequitable conduct and filing of its motion. Furthermore, Lear had been aware of the individuals accused of committing the inequitable conduct for several years. Finally, plaintiff Chamberlain Group would have been prejudiced by amendment at this late date because the expert reports the parties had already exchanged would have to have been revised or supplemented if Lear was allowed to amend.

Continue Reading Defendant May not Amend Answer After Close of Fact Discovery

Chamberlain Group v. The Lear Corp., No. 05 C 3449, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jul. 15, 2010) (St. Eve, J.).
Judge St. Eve denied plaintiff Chamberlain’s motion to compel further deposition of a witness in this patent case. The Court noted that the information sought from the deposition could be relevant. But the Court denied the motion for failure to comply with the meet and confer rule, Local Rule 37.2. And the Court explained that it would no longer consider motions based upon Fed. R. Civ. P. 26-37 without a Local Rule 37.2 statement:
(1) that after consultation in person or by telephone and good faith attempts to resolve differences they were unable to reach an accord, or (2) counsel’s attempts to engage in such consultation were unsuccessful due to no fault of counsel’s. Where the consultation occurred, this statement shall recite, in addition, the date, time and place of such conference, and the names of all parties participating therein. Where counsel was unsuccessful in engaging in such consultation, the statement shall recite the efforts made by counsel to engage in consultation.
Defendants’ only efforts to resolve the dispute occurred at the deposition where the issue arose. This did not meet the Local Rule 37.2 requirement.

Continue Reading Court Refuses Any Future Discovery Motions Without Local Rule 37.2 Certification

Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Lear Corp., No. 05 C 3449, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jul. 12, 2010) (St. Eve, J.).
Judge St. Eve denied plaintiffs’ motion for a letter of request to India’s Ministry of Law and Justice seeking a deposition of an individual third party that previously was a software programmer for defendant’s software vendor Wipro. Despite identifying the witness in July 2009, Plaintiffs did not file their motion until June 2010, two weeks before the close of discovery.

Continue Reading Court Refuses Late Motion for International Deposition

Chamberlain Group v. The Lear Corp., No. 05 C 3449, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jul. 13, 2010) (St. Eve, J.).
Judge St. Eve granted in part plaintiff Chamberlain’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(c)(1) motion for a protective order in this patent case involving garage door opening systems. The Court denied a protective order as to defendant Lear’s request for Chamberlain’s financial information. While Chamberlain claimed the sales information was not relevant because Chamberlain did not seek lost profit damages, Chamberlain’s interrogatory response said it did seek lost profit damages. Additionally, the financial information was relevant as it was reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence related to Chamberlain’s commercial success and its lost profits.
The Court granted a protective order as to discovery related to Chamberlain’s new garage-door-opening algorithm. Chamberlain had not sold a product embodying the algorithm. So, it was irrelevant to a reasonable royalty calculation which looked to a hypothetical negotiation when infringement began. Furthermore, the algorithm was not relevant to an obviousness analysis. Finally, Chamberlain’s decision to produce more information related to the same algorithm did not make the algorithm relevant.
The Court also entered a protective order preventing further deposition of a Chamberlain employee. The employee had already been deposed twice – once for two hours and once for a full day. To the extent Lear wanted to depose the employee about the new algorithm, the Court had already determined it was irrelevant. And despite repeated warnings to stop, Lear had already repeatedly questioned the employee about the algorithm.

Continue Reading New Algorithm Not Relevant to Hypothetical Reasonable Royalty Calculation

Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Johnson Controls Interiors LLC, No. 2007-1314-1467, Slip Op. (Fed. Cir. Feb. 19, 2008).
The Federal Circuit reversed Judge Moran’s construction of “binary code” and, therefore, reversed the limited preliminary injunction entered by the Northern District – click here and here for the Blog’s posts regarding the injunction. The Northern District construed “binary code” as a code represented by two values, but not necessarily a binary number – click here and here for the Blog’s posts regarding the Northern District’s claim and construction opinions. The Federal Circuit praised the Northern District’s claim construction analysis, but reversed the construction:
The district court commendably strove to follow this court’s rules for claim construction. See Phillips, 415 F.3d at 1318-19. In this regard, the trial court weighed the intrinsic evidence along with the extrinsic evidence and properly sought to avoid importing a limitation from the specification into the claims. See id. Nonetheless, this court discerns that the ‘544 patent specification gives particular limiting meanings to the language in the claims.
The Federal Circuit held that “binary code” required a binary (or base two) number. Otherwise, any values would meet the limitation because all values, whether in base two, three, the more standard ten or any other, are represented by computers using two values – 1 and 0. Because the revised claim construction called into question the Northern District’s likelihood of success analysis, the Federal Circuit reversed the preliminary injunction.

Continue Reading Construction Reversed Despite “Commendable” Analysis

Brian Higgins’s Maryland IP Law Blog post about the progeny of In re Seagate, 497 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2007), inspired me to do follow up posts identifying Northern District cases discussing recent major IP decisions. The first looks at cases discussing eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C., 126 S.Ct. 1837, 164 L.Ed.2d 641 (2006). Here they are:*
Black & Decker Inc. v. Robert Bosch Tool Corp., No. 04 C 7955, 2006 WL 3446144 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 29, 2006) (St. Eve, J.). — Granting a permanent injunction in a case between competitors.
Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Lear Corp., No. 05 C 3449, 2007 WL 1017751 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 30, 2007) (Moran, J.). — Granting a preliminary injunction in a case between competitors and holding that in eBay the Supreme Court limited the automatic presumption of irreparable harm based upon infringement.
For further analysis of post-eBay decisions, check out my post about Michael Smith’s analysis (click here) and my post discussing Ray Nimmer’s thoughts on the potential for compulsory licensing regimes because of eBay (click here).
* A brief note on methodology: this was not a thorough study and does not include cases that granted or denied injunctions without discussion. For a more comprehensive list of decisions nationwide (updated through the end of 2007) go to the Fire of Genius.

Continue Reading Injunctions Post-eBay

Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Lear Corp., No. 05 C 3449, 2007 WL 1238908 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 25, 2007) (Moran, J.).

Judge Moran denied defendant Lear’s motion to stay the Court’s preliminary injunction pending appeal to the Federal Circuit,* but did allow third party General Motors ("GM") to intervene of right and modified the PI to limit harm to defendant and GM.  In a March 30, 2007 opinion and order, the Court granted plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, preventing defendant from marketing and selling its garage door opener transmitters based upon the Court’s prior claim constructions (these opinions are available in the Blog’s archives).  The Court held that Lear could not show a likelihood of success on the merits, in part because the Court’s "Markman decision and subsequent reconsideration dealt an enormous blow to [Lear’s] case."  The Court acknowledged that while plaintiff would suffer irreparable harm without the PI, both Lear and GM could suffer irreparable harm because of the PI.  In order to resolve the irreparable harm issue, the Court revised the PI to exempt Lear’s sales to GM.  Because GM was Lear’s only client and because the exemption allowed GM to continue sourcing Lear’s product  the revised PI would remove harm to GM and substantially reduce Lear’s harm.  While Lear would not be able to add new customers, it would not have to idle its related workers and factories because Lear would not lose any customers.  Because the removal of GM sales from the PI substantially limits Lear’s potential harm, the Court denied Lear’s motion, supported by GM, to increase the bond from $10,000,000 to $50,000,000.


Continue Reading Exemption of Sales to Defendant’s Sole Customer Limits PI Harm