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Verinata Health, Inc. v. Sequenom, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

February 26, 2014

VERINATA HEALTH, INC., et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SEQUENOM, INC., et al., Defendants.

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND THEIR INVALIDITY CONTENTIONS

SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge.

A motion by defendants Sequenom, Inc. and Sequenom Center for Molecular Medicine, LLC (collectively "Sequenom") for leave to amend their invalidity contentions is currently scheduled for hearing on February 28, 2014. Pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7-1(b), the Court determines that this matter is appropriate for resolution without oral argument and VACATES the hearing. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Sequenom's motion for leave to amend its invalidity contentions.

BACKGROUND

This is a patent infringement action. Plaintiffs Verinata Health, Inc. and the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University (collectively "Verinata") accuse Sequenom's Harmony¬ô Prenatal Test of infringing U.S. Patent No. 7, 888, 017 ("the '017 patent"), U.S. Patent No. 8, 008, 018 ("the '018 patent"), and U.S. Patent No. 8, 195, 415 ("the '415 patent").[1] Docket No. 34, First Amended Complaint.

The present action was filed on February 22, 2012. Verinata served its infringement contentions on July 13, 2012, and Sequenom served its invalidity contentions on September 28, 2012. On October 16, 2013, the Court issued a claim construction order in this action and the related cases, construing the disputed terms of the patents-in-suit. Docket No. 135. By the present motion, Sequenom moves for leave to amend its invalidity contentions in light of the Court's claim construction order.

LEGAL STANDARD

Patent Local Rule 3-3 requires a party opposing a claim of patent infringement to serve on all parties its "Invalidity Contentions" within 45 days after being served with the "Disclosure of Asserted Claims and Infringement Contentions." Patent Local Rule 3-6 provides that amendment of the invalidity contentions "may be made only by order of the Court upon a timely showing of good cause." "The local patent rules in the Northern District of California... requir[e] both the plaintiff and the defendant in patent cases to provide early notice of their infringement and invalidity contentions, and to proceed with diligence in amending those contentions when new information comes to light in the course of discovery. The rules thus seek to balance the right to develop new information in discovery with the need for certainty as to the legal theories." O2 Micro Int'l Ltd. v. Monolithic Power Sys., Inc., 467 F.3d 1355, 1365-66 (Fed. Cir. 2006); see also Atmel Corp. v. Information Storage Devices, 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17564, at *7 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 4, 1998) ("Unlike the liberal policy for amending pleadings, the philosophy behind amending claim charts is decidedly conservative, and designed to prevent the shifting sands' approach to claim construction.").

To make a satisfactory showing of good cause, a party seeking to amend its invalidity contentions must show that it "acted with diligence in promptly moving to amend when new evidence is revealed in discovery." O2 Micro, 467 F.3d at 1363. "The party seeking to amend its contentions bears the burden of establishing diligence." CBS Interactive, Inc. v. Etilize, Inc., 257 F.R.D. 195, 201 (N.D. Cal. 2009) (citing O2 Micro, 467 F.3d at 1366-67). If the moving party is able to establish diligence, the Court should then consider prejudice to the non-moving party in determining whether to grant leave to amend. See O2 Micro, 467 F.3d at 1368; CBS Interactive, 257 F.R.D. at 201.

Non-exhaustive examples of circumstances that may, absent undue prejudice to the non-moving party, support a finding of good cause include:
(a) A claim construction by the Court different from that proposed by the party seeking amendment;
(b) Recent discovery of material, prior art despite earlier diligent search; and
(c) Recent discovery of nonpublic information about the Accused Instrumentality which was not discovered, despite diligent efforts, before the service of the Infringement Contentions.

N.D. Cal. Pat. ...


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