Palomar Technologies, Inc. v. MRSI Systems, LLC (18-cv-10236).

In a case involving allegations of infringement of a patent relating to placement of components on circuit boards, Palomar sought partial summary judgment of literal infringement.  Palomar asserted that of the three non-infringement grounds MRSI provided, one was based on a frivolous claim construction and the other two were directly contradicted by MRSI’s 30(b0(6) witness. Palomar also sought summary judgment on MRSA’s public use invalidity defense, alleging that MRSI had failed to timely provide contentions relating to this issue that provided the requisite detail to maintain the defense. Noting that o claim construction order has yet issued and discovery remains on-going, Judge Saylor denied Palomar’s motions without prejudice, finding them to be premature. He further noted that, to the extent the motions were the result of an alleged failure of MRSI to provide discovery or make required disclosures, a motion to compel or for sanctions would be the appropriate step for Palomar to take.

Egenera, Inc. v. Cisco Systems, Inc. (16-cv-11613).

Egenera accused Cisco of infringing the ‘430 patent, which names Egenera employee Peter Schulter as one of the inventors. When Cisco sought inter partes review on the basis of a 2000 reference, Egenera sought to swear behind the reference (under the first-to-invent rule, as the invention predates the AIA’s first-to-file system). Egenera relied on a document authored by inventor Max Smith, that Egenera asserts fully described the claimed invention. This document, however, pre-dates Schulter’s employment with Egenera. Egenera successfully petitioned to have Schulter removed as an inventor, and filed a declaration from Schulter stating that he was erroneously named. Cicso contended that Schulter should have been named as an inventor, and that by his removal the patent is invalid.

Judge Stearns agreed with Cisco that, should Schulter be determined to have contributed to the invention, Egenera could not petition to have him restored as an inventor under the doctrine of judicial estoppel, as such a claim would be inconsistent with Egenera’s assertion that he was incorrectly named. Judge Stearns determined, however, that while Schulter authored a pre-critical date document on a virtual LAN proxy that potentially read on a means-plus-function term in the claims, his authorship alone was not enough to determine, as a matter of law, that he conceived of the virtual LAN proxy or that the virtual LAN proxy was claimed via the means-plus-function limitation. Accordingly, he denied the cross motions for summary judgment on inventorship.

Purdue Pharma LP et al. v. Collegium Pharmaceutical, Inc. (15-cv-13099).

Purdue alleges that Collegium infringed three patents relating to abuse-deterrent extended-release oxycodone by filing an NDA for Collegium’s XTAMPZA ER product. Collegium sought summary judgment of non-infringement on two theories – that its active ingredient (oxycodone myristate) is not the equivalent of Purdue’s oxycodone hydrochloride, and that Collegium’s product lacks the claimed “irritant.” Collegium also asserted that one of the patents should be deemed invalid under issue preclusion or collateral estoppel, based on a final judgment in a New York court that three related patents were invalid and the PTO’s requirement, during examination of the patents at issue, that a terminal disclaimer be filed to overcome obviousness-type double patenting over the related patents.

The invalidated claims from the prior litigation were all product-by-process claims; while the Judge in that case acknowledged the process was novel, the claims stood or fell based solely on the product limitations, which did not describe a patentably-distinct compound. In evaluating the collateral estoppel argument, Judge Saylor noted that it had not been applied by the District of Delaware in an infringement case involving one of the patents of this suit. Judge Saylor applied Federal Circuit law on the preclusion and estoppel issues, which allows for preclusion on patent invalidity where the differences between the unadjudicated and adjudicated claims do not materially alter the question of patentability. He determined that the PTO’s double patenting analysis fails to satisfy this requirement, and that Purdue’s filing of the terminal disclaimers (particularly while expressly indicating its lack of agreement with the rejections) could not be converted into an admission or acquiescence on the merits of the rejections. He also determined that the claims at issue included additional limitations that materially alter the patentability as compared with the previously-invalidated claims, as the new claims included limitations relevant to the process that were not considered in the New York litigation. Collegium asserted that these limitations were inherently present in the invalidated Purdue patents, but Judge Saylor declined to apply the doctrine of inherency where the references in question, related Purdue patents, would not qualify as prior art, and noted that in any event there were unresolved issues of material fact that precluded summary judgment on the issue. While rejecting the preclusion issue, Judge Saylor did note that the findings of fact by the New York court rendered the validity of at least some of the asserted claims doubtful.

Collegium next sought to apply prosecution history estoppel to preclude a finding of infringement by equivalents, asserting that Purdue had specifically distinguished its hydrochloride form of oxycodone over other forms of oxycodone. Judge Saylor, however, determined that the scope of disavowal extended not further than products including oxycodone free base and declined to estop the equivalency argument. He found factual issues as to whether the two forms were equivalent that precluded summary judgment of non-infringement.

Collegium sought judgment of non-infringement on method claims, asserting that it does on itself complete all of the method steps because its product is manufactured by two companies that it does not control; Judge Saylor determined that Collegium could not demonstrate an absence of material fact on this issue, and denied summary judgment. Collegium’s last effort was to escape infringement of two of the patents on the basis that the myristic acid it utilized in its product is not an “irritant,” but instead is included to dissolve the oxycodone base. Looking back to the construction of “irritant,” the Court noted that Purdue had disavowed from the scope of that term components that both served both as an irritant and provided some other benefit, such as serving as an excipient. Noting that Purdue concedes that myristic acid in the XTAMPZA ER provides an excipient function, Judge Saylor granted summary judgment of non-infringement of all claims requiring an irritant, which effectively resulted in non-infringement on two of the three asserted patents.

Xiao Wei Yang Catering Linkage In Inner Mongolia Co., Ltd. et al. v. Inner Mongolia Xiao Wei Yang USA, Inc. et al. (15-cv-10114).

Judge Casper granted summary judgment in favor of the Defendants on the trademark infringement, false designation of origin, trademark dilution, unfair competition, and unfair and deceptive trade practices. The case arose over a dispute between a Chinese restaurant chain and a US company seeking to become a franchisee. The two entered an agreement whereby the US entity opened a restaurant using the Chinese companies’ “Little Lamb” trademark. Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants violated this agreement by not opening another restaurant within one year of opening the Boston restaurant, making their use of the mark infringing as unsanctioned. The Court disagreed, and further determined that the attempted rescission of the agreement by the Plaintiffs was not proper under the terms of the agreement. As the agreement authorized the use of the mark, infringement could not be found. In a footnote, Judge Casper also noted that the Plaintiffs had failed to produce any evidence of damages, and that no presumption of damages could be had under the Lanham Act, which would also support a denial of the motion for summary judgment. As the remainder of the claims for which summary judgment was sought relied on a finding of infringement, these claims were also denied. Summary judgment in the Defendants’ favor had already been granted on breach of contract, breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, fraudulent inducement and unjust enrichment claims, meaning that all of Plaintiffs’ claims have been denied.

Janssen Biotech, Inc. v. Cellitrion Healthcare Co., Ltd. Et al. (17-cv-11008).

In an order at the end of July, Judge Wolf granted Cellitron’s motion for summary judgment of non-infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,598,083, the sole patent remaining in this litigation. Janssen’s initial focus had been on a different patent that was found invalid for obviousness-type double patenting. Janssen then shifted focus to allegations that the Defendants infringed the ‘083 patent under the doctrine of equivalents. The ‘083 patent covers compositions for preparing cell culture medium suitable for ultimately producing infliximab, which Janssen sells under the brand name “Remicade.” The asserted claims recite 61 different ingredients, each at a range of concentrations. Only 52 are actually required by the claim to be present, as the remaining 9 have a lower concentration limit of 0. It is undisputed that the accused composition includes all 52 required ingredients, but not all fall within the claimed range. Defendants moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the hypothetical claim that would literally cover the accused composition would ensnare the prior art, which would serve to prohibit application of the doctrine of equivalents. Judge Wolf agreed, finding that this hypothetical claim, while not anticipated, would have been obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art. Janssen, as the party asserting the doctrine of equivalents, bore the burden of proving that the scope of equivalents sought would have been patentable over the prior art, a burden they could not meet. Judge Wolf determined that the claimed composition merely substituted several ingredients of the prior art compositions with known alternatives, which performed in accordance with their previously-established function in providing nutrients to cells. Additionally, while Janssen presented sufficient evidence to permit a finder of fact to determine that the Defendants had copied Janssen’s composition (one of the Graham factors that evidences non-obviousness), this factor would not, even if proven, be enough to overcome the strong prima facie case of obviousness of the hypothetical claim. Accordingly, judgment was entered in favor of the Defendants.

SiOnyx, LLC v. Hamamatsu Photonics K.K. et al. (15-cv-13488).

SiOnyx alleged that Hamamatsu, following an aborted attempt to form a business partnership involving devices that improve the detection of near-infrared light, had violated a non-disclosure agreement and obtained patents on SiOnyx technology without naming SiOnyx personnel as inventors. Hamamatsu filed twelve motions for partial summary judgment. Judge Saylor granted three of these, denied three, and deferred judgment on the remaining six.

Hamamatsu’s bid to prevail on breach of contract and unjust enrichment claims on statute of limitations grounds was denied. While the relevant events occurred longer ago than the six-year time period provided by the statute of limitations on these types of claims, Massachusetts law follows the discovery rule, by which the cause of action arises not when the events occurred, but when the plaintiff discovers or should reasonably have discovered. Here, there were issues of fact as to when SiOnyx should reasonably have become aware of these claims, brought about by Hamamatsu’s repeated assurances that it had developed the relevant technology on its own, independent from any knowledge acquired under the NDA. Judge Saylor denied summary judgment of breach of contract, finding issues of fact as to the scope of use of confidential information, while granting Hamamatsu’s motion with respect to the unjust enrichment claims of both SiOnyx and co-plaintiff Harvard, because under Massachusetts law, unjust enrichment cannot be found where there is a valid contract defining the rights of the parties. Applying First Circuit law, Judge Saylor denied Hamamatsu’s motion with respect to consequential damages on the grounds that the testimony offered in support of this theory, SiOnyx’s recollection of statements as to why a third-party agreement was terminated made by an executive of the third party, constituted an exception to hearsay under Rule 803(3) as a statement of intent or motive. Finally, he granted Hamamatsu’s motion that a SiOnyx employee was not a co-inventor on Hamamatsu’s patents, as the testimony of the employee was not sufficiently corroborated by documentary evidence.

In re: NeuroGrafix (‘360) Patent Litigation (13-cv-02432).

NeuroGrafix accused Brainlab of infringing its U.S. Patent No. 5,560,360, which covers methods of imaging neural tissue to distinguish anisotropic nerve tracts in which water can diffuse along the length of the nerve tract but not perpendicularly to the nerve tract.  A number of method claims were asserted, including a single independent claim.  Brainlab sought summary judgment of non-infringement based in part on its chosen interpretation of two claim limitations – exposing a region that includes a selected structure that includes both anisotropic and non-anisotropic tissue to a magnetic polarizing field, and generating a data set that distinguishes the two structures.  Brainlab contended that it cannot target the required “selected structure” because until the data is obtained, one cannot know where the anisotropic structure is, arguing that the ‘360 patent is directed to improved imaging of peripheral nerves, and that therefore the “select structure” must be limited to peripheral nerves, which Brainlab’s accused product does not track.  Brainlab also asserted that its accused product does not distinguish anisotropic structure from non-anisotropic structure as required by the claims, because it does not permit the user to enter an FA Threshold value of zero, which would correspond to tissue that does not exhibit diffusion anisotropy.  Judge Stearns determined that, while the motivation described for the invention was the improvement of peripheral nerve imaging, this motivation standing alone is insufficient to limit the scope of the claims.  He cited language in the specification that referred to distinguishing anisotropic tissue from other structures that do not exhibit anisotrophy as referring to distinguishing tissue that had levels of anisotrophy low enough to be insignificant for imaging purposes as opposed to having an absolute absence of anisotrophy.   He also criticized Brainlab’s attempt to draw limitations from dependent claims into the independent claim, the opposite of the principle of claim differentiation.

Despite ruling in NeuroGrafix’s favor on the disputed claim terms, Judge Stearns ultimately granted summary judgment of non-infringement to Brainlab.  NeuroGrafix’s allegations were that Brainlab induces infringement, with the direct infringement occurring when the user images the pyramidal tract in the brain.  Judge Stearns found that, depending on the purpose of the physician in imaging a patient, the accused product is capable of both infringing and non-infringing uses.  Mere capability of infringement, however, is insufficient to establish liability, and NeuroGrafix could point to no record evidence that any physician had ever actually used the product in a manner that would infringe.  Judge Stearns distinguished cases where direct infringement could be inferred by instructions that not only described the infringing mode, but taught or encouraged it; the marketing material for the accused product did note the possibility of delineating the pyramidal tract, but did not teach the particular settings to achieve this.  Accordingly, Brainlab’s motion for summary judgment of non-infringement was allowed.