January 23, 2022

Volume XII, Number 23

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District of Delaware Chief Judge Denies Request for Early Motion for Summary Judgment and Will Not Refer to Magistrates Citing Strain on Judicial Resources

On November 23, 2021, Chief Judge Colm Connolly of the District of Delaware denied a joint request for an early summary judgment motion in patent litigation. In Fundamental Innovation Systems International LLC v. Lenovo (United States), Inc., the Court explained that it generally would not permit early summary judgment unless the motion would be dispositive and the filing party agreed to forgo filing any other summary judgment motions. C.A. No. 20-551-CFC, D.I. 68 (D. Del. Nov. 23, 2021). 

The Court also declined to refer the motion to a Magistrate Judge under 28 U.S. Code § 636(b)(1), which allows designation of a magistrate judge to submit findings of fact and recommendations for disposition. While such referrals were meant to help ease the burden on the Court, Chief Judge Connolly wrote “the sad reality in patent cases” is that referral of such motions to a magistrate “inevitably results in objections to the magistrate judge’s report, which the district court judge must review de novo.” The Court announced that it would no longer refer summary judgment motions in patent cases to a magistrate judge because it “ends up doubling the amount of judicial resources needed to resolve the summary judgment motion in question.”

Of note, Chief Judge Connolly cited his heavy civil case load of 600 civil cases, half of which are patent cases. The Court’s patent-heavy docket has caused a need for more stream-lined procedures, including Chief Judge Connolly’s Standing Order for Summary Judgment Practice in Patent Cases that was issued last Spring, announcing that if the Court denies a motion for summary judgment filed by a party, the Court will not review any further motions for summary judgment filed by the party. Currently for 2021, the District of Delaware has the second highest number of patent cases filed in the country with approximately 790. 

Copyright © 2022 Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 334
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About this Author

Stephanie Riley Of Counsel Intellectual Property IP Law Litigation Corporate Delaware Wilmington Womble Bond Dickinson
Of Counsel

Stephanie Smiertka Riley focuses her practice on corporate, commercial, and intellectual property litigation in all Delaware Courts, especially the United States District Court for the District of Delaware, Delaware Court of Chancery, and Delaware Superior Court. Her experience in complex commercial litigation extends to business disputes, including misappropriation of trade secrets, breaches of contract, and tortious interference; consumer protection and RICO claims; constitutional law claims; and pharmaceutical and medical device multi-district litigations. Because of...

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