Se-Kure Controls, Inc. v. Senneco Sol’ns., Inc., No. 08 C 6075, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct. 23, 2009) (Holderman, C. J.)
Chief Judge Holderman stayed the case as to plaintiff Se-Kure Controls’ ‘590 patent while Se-Kure appealed Judge Guzman’s invalidity decision regarding the ‘590 patent. The Court, however, did not stay the case as to Se-Kune’s other two patents-in-suit – the ‘807 and ‘822 patents. The Court held that defendant Senneco would be prejudiced by a delay as to the ‘807 and ‘822 patents. And the appeal as to the ‘590 patent would not simplify issues regarding either the ‘807 or ‘822 patents.
But the Court held that the burden of staying just the ‘590 patent issues would be minimal. If the ‘590 patent invalidity decision were upheld it would reduce the issues for trial. If the decision was overturned, little additional discovery would be required. And the parties had already agreed to adopt Judge Guzman’s claim constructions, with only a few additional terms requiring construction.

Continue Reading Court Stays Claims re One Patent, but Other Patent Claims Proceed

Se-Kure Controls, Inc. v. Diam USA, Inc., No. 06 C 4857, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 19, 2008) (Guzman J.)
Judge Guzman construed the disputed terms in plaintiff’s patent to a retail store security alarm system for portable devices. Of particular note, the Court held that a “retracting mechanism” was a means plus function element. While “mechanism” does not create a perception of means plus function language, the Court noted Federal Circuit precedent that “mechanism” generally lacked sufficient structure. And that held true in this case, as evidence by the fact that both parties identified structure from the specification that allegedly defined the claimed mechanisms.
The Court also provided a very useful summary of its constructions at the end of the opinion. The claim construction summary is an excellent writing device, like an executive summary, that substantially increases the ease of use of the opinion. Hopefully more courts will adopt Judge Guzman’s structure.

Continue Reading Court Employs Summary of Construed Claim Terms

Se-Kure Controls, Inc. v. Diam USA, Inc., No. 06 C 4857, 2008 WL 169029 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 17, 2008) (Cox, Mag. J.).*
Judge Cox granted in part a motion to compel discovery regarding defendant’s advice of counsel defense. The Court ordered defendants to product a technical witness that provided opinion counsel information because opinion counsel was unable to remember the substance of conversations between the two.
The Court also ordered production of communications between opinion counsel and trial counsel related to the patent in suit. These communications were within the scope of defendant’s waiver, even though a deposition of trial counsel would not have been allowed.
The Court did not allow plaintiff to take any additional fact depositions. Plaintiff argued it had waited to take certain fact depositions because the witnesses were expected to be Fed. R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6) designers regarding defendants’ willfulness defense. But the Court did not allow the deposition because fact discovery was closed and because plaintiff had deposed other witnesses on the same topics.
The most exciting part of this opinion, however, was its form, not its substance – Judge Cox used footnotes for cites. While this format is infinitely more readable and has many prominent advocates – Brian Garner, Ken Adams, me (perhaps not the most prominent but I am an advocate of footnote citation) – it is a bold move in the typically conservative realm of judicial writing. At least one other Northern District Judge, Chief Judge Holderman, has used footnote citation. If you are aware of other examples, let me know.
Thank you Judge Cox.
* Click here for more on this case and related cases in the Blog’s archives.

Continue Reading Opinion Letter Discovery and Footnote Citation