Judge Saylor granted in part and denied in part Abiomed’s motion to strike Maquet’s second supplemental non-infringement contentions. Maquet, who asserted patent infringement counterclaims, sought to add a claim under 35 U.S.C. § 271(f), which prohibits the export of all or a substantial portion of a patented invention for assembly abroad. Judge Saylor struck this part of the contentions, finding that Maquet’s counterclaims did not refer to 271(f) and made no factual allegations from which a 271(f) claim could be inferred, and thus Maquet should follow the requirements of F.R.C.P. 15. Judge Saylor refused to strike portions of the second supplemental contentions that added new infringement contentions concerning the “guide mechanism” term. He noted that, through inadvertence, his scheduling order did not literally prevent the service of supplemental contentions, and accepted Maquet’s assertion that the amendment was based on “newly adduced” evidence not previously available to it. Maquet further assured the Court that the amendment narrows the asserted claims and “elaborates and refines” their infringement theory. He did ban any further amendment of the infringement contentions.
Photographer Morgan Howarth specializes in interior architectural photography. Howarth accuses Mitchell Construction Group of copying a Howarth photograph of a kitchen cabinet and using it without license on Mitchell’s website. Specifically, the photograph is alleged to be included in Mitchell’s “5 Amazing Kitchen Cabinet Storage Options You Need To See!” on Mitchell’s blog. Howarth seeks injunctive relief, actual or statutory damages, and attorneys fees. The case is before Judge Saylor.
Closing out this dispute, at least at the District Court, Final Judgement was entered awarding SiOnyx:
- $1,377,109 in contractual and unjust enrichment damages plus $1,752,017 in pre-judgment interest for a total of $3,129,126;
- post-judgment interest at 2.4% pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1961, with an accounting of post-verdict sales to occur;
- judgment that the ‘467 patent was willfully infringed;
- addition of Dr. James Carey as co-inventor of the ‘467 patent;
- ownership of nine U.S. patents; and
- a permanent injunction barring infringement of all ten patents by Hamamatsu.
Let the appellate process begin…
Following trial, Judge Saylor dealt with a number of post-trial motions. He granted SiOnyx’s motion for equitable relief, awarding ownership of the nine patents in dispute to SiOnyx and ordering Hamamatsu to take all necessary steps to correct ownership of the patents. This was based on the non-disclosure agreement that a jury found to have been violated, that provided for ownership of all patent rights arising from the confidential information SiOnyx disclosed to Hamamatsu when exploring a possible business relationship. While the SiOnyx employee who took part in the disclosure was found to be only a con-inventor (along with Hamamatsu personnel), Judge Saylor noted that the non-disclosure agreement expressly provided ownership in the resulting ideas to SiOnyx. Judge Saylor further granted an injunction prohibiting Hamamatsu from making, using, selling, offering for sale, or importing accused products based on language in the NDA that explicitly provided for injunctive relief in the event of breach as well as on SiOnyx’s ownership of the patents, one of which the jury found to be infringed.
Judge Saylor denied Hamamatsu’s motion for judgment as a matter of law, finding that the statute of limitations did not bar suit on the NDA. He noted that this is generally a jury decision, and that there was no reason to overturn the jury’s verdict on this issue. He further refused to modify the unjust enrichment award to stop damages from accruing after the NDA expired, finding that the jury reasonably concluded that post-expiration damages flowed from pre-expiration conduct in designing the accused products.
The rulings were not all bad for Hamamatsu. Judge Saylor treated SiOnyx’s motion to amend the judgement to have their employee deemed the sole inventor on the patents in suit (filed prematurely) as a motion for judgment as a matter of law and denied it. SiOnyx contended that a jury instruction erroneously stated that the method of forming a claimed aspect of the invention was irrelevant, but Judge Saylor determined that, having failed to object to the instruction prior to the jury retiring under Fed. R. Civ. P. 51, SiOnyx had waived the argument, and further that SiOnyx could not raise the issue because it was not argued in SiOnyx’s motion for a directed verdict. Accordingly, Hamamatsu employees remain co-inventors.
Judge Saylor also denied SiOnyx’s motion for fees for an exceptional case. He noted that, while SiOnyx alleged Hamamatsu’s invalidity and non-infringement defenses to be substantively too weak to merit litigating, SiOnyx did not seek summary judgment on either issue. He further found no evidence that Hamamatsu deliberately sought to increase the cost and complexity of the litigation for an improper purpose.
Finally, Judge Saylor denied SiOnyx’s motion for enhanced damages pursuant to 35 U.S.C. 284, which allows the court to assess damages when not found by the jury. Here, the jury awarded damages for breach of contract and unjust enrichment, but awarded $0 in patent damages despite finding willful infringement. SiOnyx contended that the $0 award was, in effect, the jury not “finding” damages pursuant to the statute, permitting the judge to do so. Judge Saylor disagreed, noting that SiOnyx’s damages expert told the jury that there may be overlap between the breach of contract damages and infringement damages, and that the jury might need to choose between the two. Given this, and given the fact that the jury was told not to award duplicative damages, it is reasonable to interpret the $0 infringement award to mean that the infringement damages were covered by the breach of contract damage award. Judge Saylor further refused to treble the damages, since there was no way to accurately determine the level of damages attributable to infringement.
If anyone is wondering why patent litigation is so expensive, note that this case was filed in November 2015, and included significant motion practice and discovery disputes to get to this point, including 70 docket entries just to get to the filing of an answer to the complaint (with motions to dismiss, contesting adequacy of service, and for a preliminary injunction intervening). The case took almost two years to get to a claim construction order, and almost another two years to get to trial, and the matter is just now coming due for appeal. While this case involved additional issues beyond mere patent claims, this is not an unusual time-frame for patent litigation, and helps explain the costs involved.
Judge Saylor denied Abiomed’s motion for a protective order prohibiting discovery of foreign sales of products whose components were exported from the United States and assembled abroad. Abiomed had sought to preclude this information because Maquet had not specifically pled 35 U.S.C. § 271(f) as a basis for infringement. Noting that the limits on discovery set forth in Rule 26 may encompass matters that could bear on any issue that “is or may be in the case,” Judge Saylor determined that discovery as to worldwide sales is potentially relevant to damages. He stated that the order concerns only discoverability, and that he was taking no position on whether a claim under 271(f) was properly pled or on whether the resulting discovery would ultimately be admissible at trial. Judge Saylor further denied Abiomed’s motion to compel discovery from the Getinge Group, a consortium of companies that includes Maquet and that is owned by Getinge AB, a Swedish company. Getinge AB had initially been named as a defendant in Abiomed’s declaratory judgment complaint, but had successfully moved to dismiss because it’s lack of ownership of the subject patents meant that it lacked standing to defend such claims. Abiomed then had sought information and documents related to patent transactions, assessments, valuations and licenses held by Getinge Group entities located outside of the United States. Judge Saylor determined that the documents were not in the possession, custody or control of Maquet, because the fact that Maquet is a subsidiary of and shares a legal services department with Getinge was insufficient to establish that Maquet is an alter ego of Getinge.
The jury returned a verdict in this long-running saga over black silicon technology that SiOnyx disclosed to Hamamtsu under a nondisclosure agreement, finding that Hamamatsu breached the NDA and was unjustly enriched and awarding $1,377,109 in damages for these claims. They rejected Hamamatsu’s statute of limitations and equitable estoppel defenses. They further determined that SiOnyx employee Dr. Carey should be named as a co-inventor on the Hamamatsu patents-in-suit under 35 U.S.C. § 256. Finally, they determined that Hamamatsu willfully infringed SiOnyx’s patent and that the patent is valid, but awarded no damages for the infringement.
As this case goes to trail, the Court is dealing with the parties’ motions in limine. Hamamatsu moved to preclude testimony from one co-inventor, Dr. Mazur, to corroborate the testimony of a different coinventor. The Court had already found that Dr. Mazur could not prove that he was a coinventor due to a lack of corroborating evidence. Citing the lack of documentary corroboration and the fact that Dr. Mazur is an interested party, Hamamatsu asserted that he could not corroborate the alleged contribution of the other coinventor to the invention, and thus sought to preclude his testimony. Judge Saylor denied the motion, finding that the motion was effectively an untimely motion for summary judgment, and indicated that he (or the jury) would determine whether the evidence at trial, including Dr. Mazur’s testimony, was sufficient to establish inventorship.
He granted Hamamatsu’s motion to preclude SiOnyx from referring to the PTAB’s decision not to institute an inter partes review at trial. Hamamatsu’s request for inter partes review was declined entirely with respect to one of the asserted patents and was partially declined with respect to another patent. Judge Saylor determined that the decision on whether to institute an IPR was not a decision on the merits (and that the decision to partially decline may be a statutory violation under recent case law) and would thus have little probative value, would take considerable time to explain to the jury, and would carry substantial risk of misinterpretation and unfair prejudice.
Judge Saylor further, in response to a request made by SiOnyx at the April 16th status conference, precluded Hamamatsu from arguing that it was excused from meeting its obligations under the NDA at issue due to a prior material breach of the agreement by SiOnyx, finding that Hamamatsu had waived such an argument by failing to raise it in the joint pretrial memorandum. He denied SiOnyx’s motion to preclude Hamamatsu form raising a defense of equitable estoppel. He also overruled Hamamatsu’s objection to deposition testimony from a senior corporate officer regarding the contract, finding that it did not impermissible call for a legal conclusion. Trial on this matter began yesterday.