Intellectual Property Litigation

In 10x Genomics, Inc. v. Celsee, Inc., 1-19-cv-00862 (DDE 2020-12-04, Order) (Colm F. Connolly), the District Court ordered the defendant to produce documents and give testimony about communications between defendant and its new corporate owner concerning the litigation and the provisions in the acquisition agreement that concern the litigation.

Specifically, during the pendency of the litigation, nonparty Bio-Rad Laboratories had acquired 100 percent of Defendant Celsee, Inc.’s stock pursuant to an acquisition agreement. The acquisition agreement had disclosures and provisions related to the litigation. At two depositions, Celsee refused to let witnesses answer questions about documents Celsee disclosed to BioRad and communications it had with Bio-Rad during the negotiations that resulted in the acquisition agreement. The disclosures and communications occurred after Celsee and Bio-Rad had signed a non-binding letter of intent to engage in the acquisition negotiations. Celsee cited the common interest privilege and the attorney work product doctrine as the bases for its refusal to allow the witnesses to answer the questions posed to them.
Continue Reading District Court Finds Communications and Documents Concerning Defendant’s Post-Filing Acquisition Are Not Protected by the Common Interest Privilege

In Impact Engine, Inc. v. Google LLC, 3-19-cv-01301 (SDCA 2020-10-20, Order) (Cathy Ann Bencivengo), the District Court for the Southern District of California recently considered whether litigation funding documents could be withheld from production by plaintiff Impact Engine because the documents were work product protected.  In the case, defendant Google had propounded a request on Impact Engine for the production of “[all] Documents Regarding any contracts or agreements between Plaintiff and any Third Party concerning (1) This Litigation and/or (2) any Asserted Patent or Related Patent.”  Impact Engine indicated it would produce non-privileged responsive documents except for potential agreements related to litigation funding because Impact Engine asserted work product protection over the documents.
Continue Reading District Court Finds Documents Related to Litigation Funding Protected by Work Product Doctrine

Jack Daniel’s Properties, Inc. has petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States for certiorari following an unfavorable ruling from the Ninth Circuit in the matter of VIP Products LLC v. Jack Daniel’s Properties, Inc. In that case, VIP Products sued Jack Daniel’s after receiving a cease-and-desist letter concerning its Bad Spaniels Silly Squeaker dog toy. The toy is intentionally similar to the famous Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 whiskey bottle, but is clearly intended to be a joke.

Instead of saying Jack Daniels, the bottle says Bad Spaniels and includes a cartoonish cocker spaniel. Below that, where the Jack Daniel’s bottle usually says “Old No. 7,” the toy says “The Old No. 2” above “on your Tennessee Carpet” where the real bottle says Tennessee Whiskey. The squeaky toy is clearly intended as joke for dog owners, and I don’t believe it would confuse consumers into believing the product is actually associated with Jack Daniel’s. Jack Daniel’s apparently felt differently.

The district court agreed with Jack Daniel’s. While ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the district court held that the Rogers test, which is used to balance the interests between trademark law and the First Amendment, was inapplicable because the toy is not an expressive work. Later, after a four-day bench trial, the District Court ruled against VIP Products and found it had infringed Jack Daniel’s IP.
Continue Reading Dogs, Whiskey, and Intellectual Property: Need I Say More?

In Guardant Health, Inc. v. Foundation Medicine, Inc., 1-17-cv-01616 (DDE 2020-01-07, Order), the Court rejected the Plaintiff’s argument that an inequitable conduct claim must be related only to the prosecution of the patent-at-issue in ruling on plaintiff’s motion to dismiss defendants’ infectious unenforceability counterclaims.  In the case, the Defendants’ theory as to the unenforceability of U.S. Patent No. 9,902,992 (the ’992 patent) was not based on inequitable conduct said to have occurred during the ’992 patent’s prosecution.  Instead, it rested on the relationship between the ’992 patent and the prosecution of other related patents.

As some background, inequitable conduct regarding any single claim in the prosecution of a patent renders the entire patent unenforceable, not just that specific claim. Moreover, a finding of inequitable conduct can affect not just the improperly-prosecuted patent, but can also render unenforceable any other related patents and applications in the same patent family. This concept is what courts have referred to as the doctrine of “infectious unenforceability.”
Continue Reading Inequitable Conduct Can Render all Patents in a Patent Family Unenforceable through Infectious Unenforceability

One of the most common forms of relief sought in trade secret litigation is an injunction preventing the defendants from using or disclosing the plaintiff’s trade secret information.  Although temporary restraining orders and/or preliminary injunctions may be obtained that are in place during the lawsuit, a permanent injunction is entered after trial and typically has no set time period for expiration.  There are various statutes that allow a defendant to seek to modify or dissolve a trade secret injunction at a later date, including a showing that the information that is the subject of the injunction is no longer entitled to trade secret protection.  The recent decision in Global Protein Products, Inc. v. Le (Cal. 6th App. Dist.) helps illustrate the high hurdle a defendant must clear in order to obtain such relief.
Continue Reading Challenging a Trade Secret Injunction? Better Come Loaded For Bear