District Judge Katherine Forrest denied plaintiff Regeneron’s motion to compel responses to contention interrogatories against defendants Merus and Ablexis. Regeneron sued Merus and Ablexis alleging patent infringement of U.S. Patent 8,502,018 directed towards using a genetically modified mouse to manufacture biopharmaceutical therapeutics including human antibodies.

Regeneron sought to compel responses to contention interrogatories regarding willful infringement, non-infringement, and defenses other than non-infringement or invalidity.

Regeneron claimed that it should be able to compel the defendants to answer its contention interrogatories early in the discovery process because this is a patent matter. Defendants resisted disclosure at this stage in the case and “committed to responding within a short period of time following this Court’s decision on claim construction.”

The court noted that “[t]here is no special ‘patent rule’ that provides for contention interrogatories at the outset of a case.” In fact, compelling “defendants to commit to certain positions regarding non-infringement when the basis for infringement has not yet been fully clarified” would effectively “put[] the cart before the horse.” The court held that Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 33(a)(2) and Local Rule 33.3(a) allow contention interrogatories after substantial discovery has occurred.”

Case: Regeneron Pharm., Inc. v. Merus B.V. and Ablexis LLC, No. 14 Civ. 1651 (S.D.N.Y. May 29, 2014)

Michael Rhodes