Viskase v. World Pac, No. 09 C 5022, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Oct. 15, 2010) (Bucklo, J.).
Judge Bucklo granted defendants’ motion to reconsider, ordering production of the “Merritt Memo” previously held to be privileged because it included litigation counsel. The Court held that litigation counsel, before becoming litigation counsel, was the principal conduit to opinion counsel and his opinion was sought in connection with opinion counsel’s analysis. The Court, however, held that no post-filing communications were discoverable in light of In re Seagate which provided post-filing protection where a preliminary injunction was denied.

Continue Reading Trial Counsel’s Opinion – Related Documents Are Discoverable

Trading Techs. Int’l, Inc. v. eSpeed, Inc., No. 04 C 5312, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. May 22, 2008) (Moran, Sen. J.).*
Judge Moran denied the party’s cross motions for attorney’s fees. Plaintiff Trading Technologies (“TT”) argued that the case was exceptional. But the Court held that it was not for the following reasons:
eSpeed’s refusal to admit infringement was reasonable. A defendant requiring plaintiff to make its proofs does not alone make a case exceptional.
eSpeed’s decision not to agree to an interlocutory appeal of claim construction and noninfringement decision was not grounds to make the case exceptional. Although eSpeed argued against an interlocutory appeal, the Court made the ultimate determination.
eSpeed’s pursuit of its inequitable conduct claim, which it lost after a bench trial, did not make the case exceptional. In the Court’s opinion regarding inequitable conduct, the Court ruled for TT, but noted that eSpeed’s case was not frivolous – click here to read the Blog’s post about that opinion.
The jury’s willfulness finding did not make the case exceptional. This was especially true because the Court overturned the jury’s willfulness decision based upon In re Seagate – click here to read the Blog’s post about that case.
The Court noted that neither party in this case acted more outrageously than the other. Counsel for both parties were zealous advocates that pushed, but did not go beyond, the envelope.
eSpeed argued that the Court should award it attorney’s fees, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 37(e)(2), for proving that a particular use of a software package was commercial and not experimental, a fact that TT denied in a request for admission. The Court chose not to rule on TT’s and eSpeed’s respective procedural arguments regarding whether TT was required to admit the use was commercial. Instead, the Court denied attorney’s fees because of the Court’s earlier ruling that failure to disclose the commercial use in question to the Patent Office was not inequitable conduct because the use occurred before the critical date. And, as with eSpeed’s decision to hold TT to its proofs, the Court would not punish TT for holding eSpeed to its proofs on inequitable conduct.
* Click here to read this opinion and click here to read much more about this case in the Blog’s archives.

Continue Reading Trading Technologies v. eSpeed: No Attorney’s Fees

Ball Aerosol and Specialty Container, Inc. v. Limited Brands, Inc., No. 05 C 3684, 2008 WL 839993 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 27, 2008) (Der-Yeghiayan, J.).
Judge Der-Yeghiayan denied defendants’ (collectively “Limited Brands”) motion for reconsideration regarding the Court’s claim construction opinion and its summary judgment opinions of infringement, validity and damages – click here to read more about those opinions in the Blog’s archives. The Court previously construed the claims of plaintiff Ball Aerosol’s (“BASC”) patent covers a candle tine. The Court granted BASC summary judgment of infringement and validity, pre-KSR. When KSR revised the obviousness standard, the Court sua sponte ordered supplemental briefing regarding obviousness in light of KSR. Based upon that briefing, the Court again granted summary judgment of validity. The Court then granted BASC summary judgment on damages awarding it 20% royalties and finding Limited Brand’s infringement willful.
The Court held that its original claim construction, validity and infringement holdings were correct and that Limited Brands had been given ample opportunities to defend itself. The Court also denied Limited Brands’ argument that reasonable royalties could not be decided on summary judgment. Limited Brands’ Seventh Amendment right to a jury trial regarding damages had not been violated. There is no right to a jury without a material question of fact.
The Court also held that while its initial grant of summary judgment of willfulness was made before the Federal Circuits’ decision In Re Seagate, the undisputed facts also warranted summary judgment of willfulness pursuant to Seagate’s objective recklessness standard. Limited Brands was aware of BASC’s patent both before the suit was filed and before it began making the infringing candle tin. In fact, Limited Brands had extensive discussions with BASC regarding BASC’s specifications for candle tins. Furthermore, Limited Brand’s main defense – advice of counsel – was negated because Limited Brands did not disclose its opinion by the Court’s deadline for doing so.

Continue Reading Pre-KSR & Pre-Seagate Decisions Upheld Pursuant to New Law

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 — click here for my post on injunctions after eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C., 126 S.Ct. 1837, 164 L.Ed.2d 641 (2006). There have been a number of obviousness decisions in the Northern District since KSR Int’l Co. v. Teleflex Inc., __ U.S. __, 127 S.Ct. 1727 (2007). Here they are:*
Abbott Labs. v. Sandoz, Inc., No. 05 C 5373, 2007 WL 1549498 (N.D. Ill. May 24, 2007) (Coar, J.). — Holding that the Court’s pre-KSR analysis need not be reconsidered in light of KSR because an element was missing from the prior art, regardless of what standard was used.
Herman Miller, Inc. v. Teknion Corp., No. 05 C 2761, 2007 WL 2230042 (N.D. Ill. Jul. 30, 2007) (Gettleman, J.). — Noting that, in light of KSR, plaintiff issued a statement of non-liability and certain patents were removed from the suit.
Lexion Medical, LLC v. Northgate Techs., Inc., No. 04 C 5705, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jun. 8, 2007). — Holding that the pre-KSR jury’s decision would not have changed if given a KSR obviousness instruction.
These opinions suggest that KSR is not changing obviousness law in the Northern District much. I suspect that is not true. Once we have a larger sample of cases, including more where the initial analysis was not done pre-KSR, we will see more patents held invalid based upon obviousness.
* 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 complete list of post-KSR decisions nationwide, go to the Fire of Genius.

Continue Reading Obviousness Post-KSR

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

Brian Higgins at the Maryland IP Law Blog posted an analysis of significant willfulness decisions post-In re Seagate, 497 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2007) — click here for the post and click here for a subsequent post discussing Se-Kure Controls, Inc. v. Diam USA, Inc., No. 06 C 4857, 2008 WL 169029 (N.D. Ill. Jan. 17, 2008) (Cox, Mag. J.). Of the eleven decisions Higgins identified, three were Northern District decisions and one was a Federal Circuit decision analyzing a Northern District case. Here are my posts on the Northern District decisions:
Abbott Labs. v. Sandoz, Inc., No. 05 C 5373, 2007 WL 4287503 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 4, 2007) (Coar, J.).
Se-Kure Controls, Inc v. Diam USA, Inc.
Trading Techs. Int’l, Inc. v. eSpeed, Inc., No. 04 C 5312, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 3, 2007) (Moran, Sen. J.).
As you can infer from the relatively small number of cases identified by Higgins, there remains a lot of law to be written about Seagate before the standard is well settled. I suspect that within 18-24 months there will be a relatively large body of law, including numerous Federal Circuit decisions exploring the new standard’s outlines. Until then, patent litigants will face a degree of uncertainty regarding willfulness. Of course, defendants will generally be glad to have some uncertainty in exchange for plaintiffs’s higher willfulness hurdle.

Continue Reading Willfulness Post-Seagate

Trading Techs. Int’l, Inc. v. eSpeed, Inc., No. 04 C 5312, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Jan. 3, 2007) (Moran, Sen. J.).*
Judge Moran granted defendants’ (collectively “eSpeed”) motion for judgment as a matter of law that their infringement was no willful. The Court instructed the jury using the objective recklessness standard from In re Seagate Techs., LLC, 497 F.3d 1360 (Fed. Cir. 2007), but when the Court reviewed the totality of the circumstances it found no support for the willfulness verdict and, more specifically that plaintiff Trading Technologies (“TT”) had not met its burden of proving that there was an objectively high likelihood of infringement when eSpeed sold its infringing product, Futures View. When eSpeed launched Futures View, TT’s patent had not issued. And while eSpeed was aware of the application, knowledge of an application does not prove willfulness. Furthermore, TT produced no evidence of post-issuance willfulness. TT submitted two internal eSpeed emails, but both were sent before TT’s patent issued and the emails only suggested that eSpeed should mimic certain features of the TT software. And upon learning of TT’s issued patent, eSpeed immediately began a redesign of Futures View, resulting in new software products that the Court granted summary judgment of noninfringement. As a result of the redesign, the infringing Futures View was only on the market for five months after TT’s patent issued.
TT also argued that eSpeed’s failure to make noninfringement arguments in preliminary injunction proceedings showed willfulness. But the Court held that eSpeed denied infringement in its answer and that there was no need to argue noninfringement of Future View in preliminary injunction proceedings because eSpeed was not selling Future View. There was no danger of an injunction over a product eSpeed was not selling.
Finally, TT argued that eSpeed’s creation of a $4M escrow account related to potential infringement of the TT patent when it purchased defendant Ecco was proof of willfulness. The Court, however, held that the escrow account was merely assignment of risk in a business deal. When eSpeed purchased Ecco, TT had already sued eSpeed and to the extent that there was any risk that Ecco products could infringe the TT patent, the escrow account was not an admission, but a “shrewd business practice.”
Expect to see more on TT v. eSpeed this week. The Court has issued its first few post-trial opinions and I am sure others are on their way before this case heads, presumably, to the Federal Circuit.
* Click here to read much more about this case in the Blog’s archives and click here for a copy of this opinion.

Continue Reading Trading Technologies v. eSpeed: Court Overturns Jury’s Willfulness Verdict

Abbott Labs. v. Sandoz, Inc., No. 05 C 5373, 2007 WL 4287503 (N.D. Ill. Dec. 4, 2007) (Coar, J.).*
Judge Coar granted defendant Sandoz’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss or in the alternative Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings, dismissing plaintiff Abbott’s willfulness claims Abbott alleged that Sandoz willfully infringed Abbott’s patent related to an extended release antibiotic (clarithromycin, an erythromycin derivative which Abbott markets as Biaxin XL). At the time Sandoz entered the market with its generic version of Biaxin XL, the Federal Circuit had issued an opinion based upon an interlocutory appeal of a temporary restraining order, which included statements that Abbott’s patent was susceptible to invalidity and unenforceability argument. The Court held that Sandoz’s reliance on that opinion, regardless of the limited record it was based upon or its non-final nature was objectively reasonable, well above the In re Seagate objective recklessness standard.
* Click here for more on this case and related cases.

Continue Reading Reliance Upon Fed. Cir.’s Cursory Potential Invalidity Statements Avoids Willfulness

Goss Int’l Am., Inc. v. Graphic Management Assocs., Inc., No. 05 C 5622, 2007 WL 161684 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 9, 2007) (Valdez, Mag. J.).*
Magistrate Judge Valdez granted in part the parties’ cross motions to compel various discovery. Each party’s alleged waived privilege is of particular interest. The Court denied plaintiff’s motion to compel all documents reflecting defendants’ trial counsel’s** mental impressions of the case, whether or not they were shared with defendants. In light of In re Seagate, the Court held that defendants’ reliance upon advice of counsel does not waive its privilege as to trial counsel’s mental impressions not communicated to defendants.
The Court denied in part defendants’ motion to compel all previously privileged documents related to prosecution of the patent in suit. Defendants alleged that plaintiff’s production of a Record of Invention document prepared by the inventors at counsel’s direction and request waived privilege. The Court held that plaintiff intentionally waived privilege by disclosing the document, but limited the waiver to documents related to development of plaintiff’s invention.
* Click here for more on this case in the Blog’s archives.
** It is not entirely clear, but it appears from the opinion that defendants used the same firm or attorneys for both opinion counsel and trial counsel.

Continue Reading Court Limits Scope of Privilege Waivers

I have already posted on the verdict generally, but the jury’s completed verdict form is now available and provides some more detailed information — click here for a copy. The jury found infringement, either literal, contributory or induced, for every accused product on every asserted claim. The $3.5M damages award was split $1.5M against eSpeed and $2M against Ecco. And both eSpeed and Ecco were found to have willfully infringed the patents.
Additionally, click here for the final jury instructions. Of particular interest, the willfulness instruction, at page 35, is likely one of the first that used the new objective recklessness standard from In re Seagate.

Continue Reading Trading Technologies v. eSpeed: Jury Verdit Form