The case dismissal and monetary sanctions awarded against the patentee’s attorney were upheld on appeal. The attorney had continuously failed, despite multiple chances from the court, to adequately respond to the alleged infringer’s interrogatory that sought the patentee’s infringement contentions.
The lawsuit was dismissed and sanctions were awarded against the patentee’s counsel for his failure to adequately respond to the alleged infringer’s interrogatory seeking his client’s infringement contentions, even after four separate orders from the court. The patentee initially failed to respond, but served 30 interrogatories on the alleged infringer seeking information including technical documents related to the accused products.
The patentee objected to the alleged infringers responsive production five months after the fact. During the pendency of this dispute, the magistrate judge, for the fourth and final time, ordered the patentee to respond to the infringement contention interrogatory stating that the patentee, “should be able to make an element-by-element claim construction analysis at this point…” and warning it that “if a full and complete response is not provided to [the alleged infringer] with respect to Interrogatory No. 3, I shall recommend that this matter be dismissed.” The patentee filed an inadequate response and the alleged infringer successfully moved for sanctions and dismissal of the case.
The Federal Circuit upheld the district court’s decision. It found that the district court specifically stated that the alleged infringer had provided the patentee with enough information to respond to the interrogatory. In addition, the magistrate judge’s rulings and the alleged infringer’s motion for sanctions provided the attorney with ample notice that he may be sanctioned for his conduct. The sanctions issue was discussed during a hearing before the court on a number of matters, providing the attorney with an opportunity for oral argument that he argued was not provided to him. Further, the attorney could not attempt to shift the blame to the patentee’s corporate counsel because his name was not listed on the docket and the attorney was listed as lead counsel for the patentee.
A copy of the opinion can be found here.