On April 23, 2013, Chief ALJ Charles E. Bullock issued Order Nos. 91 (dated April 4, 2013), 93 (dated April 9, 2013), and 94 (dated April 16, 2013) in Certain Sintered Rare Earth Magnets, Methods of Making Same, and Products Containing Same (Inv. No. 337-TA-855).

According to Order No. 91, Complainants Hitachi Metals, Ltd. and Hitachi Metals North Carolina, Ltd. (collectively, “Hitachi Metals”) moved to compel Anhui Earth-Panda Magnetic Material Co., Ltd. (“Earth Panda”) to produce documents and information relating to the steps that its corporate affiliate (“Baotuo”) performs in manufacturing Earth Panda’s accused products.  Hitachi Metals argued that the information is highly relevant to the “strip casting step” and “strip casting alloy” claim limitations.  Hitachi Metals further asserted that Earth Panda has control over Baotuo’s documents.

ALJ Bullock held that the information sought by Hitachi Metals was not relevant because the “strip casting step” and “strip casting allow” claim limitations are not being asserted against Earth Panda.  Therefore, ALJ Bullock denied Hitachi Metals’ motion.

According to Order No. 93, Respondent Yantai Zhenghai Magnetic Material Co., Ltd. (“Yantai”) moved to compel Hitachi Metals to designate corporate witnesses in response to Yantai’s Second and Third Notices of Deposition.  Yantai argued that it properly served its Second and Third Notices of Deposition separate from the Respondents’ Joint Notice of Deposition because the topics were only relevant to Yantai’s affirmative defenses.  Further, Yantai asserted that Hitachi Metals was not prejudiced because both the second and third Notices of Deposition were served on Hitachi Metals early in the discovery process.

ALJ Bullock held that Yantai violated Ground Rule 4.1, which requires the parties with similar interest to coordinate and consolidate discovery.  Specifically, ALJ Bullock determined that Yantai could have, and should have, incorporated all of its requests into the Respondents’ Joint Notice of Deposition.  Accordingly, ALJ Bullock denied Yantai’s motion.

According to Order No. 94, Respondents MicroMo Electronics, Inc. and Dr. Fritz Faulhaber GmbH & Co. KG (collectively, the “Faulhaber Respondents’) moved to strike Hitachi Metals’ supplemental infringement contentions and the test results supporting those supplemental responses.  The Faulhaber Respondents argued that several of Hitachi Metals’ supplemental responses were served after the deadline for responses to contention interrogatories and, therefore, were untimely and improper.  Further, the Faulhaber Respondents asserted that “[v]iolations of procedural deadlines are inherently prejudicial.”

ALJ Bullock held that Hitachi Metals properly submitted supplemental responses based on the results from their late stage testing.  ALJ Bullock determined that the supplemental responses did not change Hitachi Metals’ infringement positions, but merely supplemented them with additional test results.  Further, ALJ Bullock held that the Faulhaber Respondents were not prejudiced because the supplemental responses were served before the close of fact and expert discovery.  Therefore, ALJ Bullock denied the Faulhaber Respondents’ motion.