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Netlist, Inc. v. Smart Storage Systems Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 1, 2014

NETLIST, INC., Plaintiff,
SMART STORAGE SYSTEMS INC., et al., Defendants.



Plaintiff Netlist, Inc. ("Netlist") sues Defendant Diablo Technologies, Inc. ("Diablo"), among others, for infringement of seven patents. Diablo now moves to strike Netlist's infringement contentions ("contentions") on the ground that they are insufficient under Patent Local Rule 3-1. (Dkt. No. 149.) The Diablo product at issue is the ULLtraDIMM, which Diablo contends does not exist beyond a prototype. The ULLtraDIMM is a module for increasing memory in computer servers.

After carefully considering the filings in this case, and having had the benefit of oral argument on March 27, 2014, the Court DENIES the motion. Netlist has satisfied Rule 3-1's requirement to give Diablo notice of its infringement allegations and why it believes it has a reasonable chance to prove infringement; whether Diablo has actually offered to sell an allegedly infringing device is not at issue in connection with Rule 3-1.


Local Rule 3-1 requires, in pertinent part:

[A] party claiming patent infringement shall serve on all parties a Disclosure of Asserted Claims and Infringement Contentions'... [which] shall contain the following information:
(a) Each claim of each patent in suit that is allegedly infringed by each opposing party, including for each claim the applicable statutory subsections of 35 U.S.C. § 271 asserted;
(b) Separately for each asserted claim, each accused apparatus, product, device, process, method, act, or other instrumentality ("Accused Instrumentality") of each opposing party of which the party is aware. This identification shall be as specific as possible. Each product, device, and apparatus shall be identified by name or model number, if known. Each method or process shall be identified by name, if known, or by any product, device, or apparatus which, when used, allegedly results in the practice of the claimed method or process;
(c) A chart identifying specifically where each limitation of each asserted claim is found within each Accused Instrumentality, including for each limitation that such party contends is governed by 35 U.S.C. § 112(6), the identity of the structure(s), act(s), or material(s) in the Accused Instrumentality that performs the claimed function.
(d) For each claim which is alleged to have been indirectly infringed, an identification of any direct infringement and a description of the acts of the alleged indirect infringer that contribute to or are inducing that direct infringement. Insofar as alleged direct infringement is based on joint acts of multiple parties, the role of each such party in the direct infringement must be described.
(e) Whether each limitation of each asserted claim is alleged to be literally present or present under the doctrine of equivalents in the Accused Instrumentality

"The overriding principle of the Patent Local Rules is that they are designed [to] make the parties more efficient, to streamline the litigation process, and to articulate with specificity the claims and theory of a plaintiff's infringement claims." Bender v. Maxim Integrated Prods., Inc., 2010 WL 1135762, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 22, 2010) (alteration in original) (internal citation omitted). Patent L.R. 3-1 is a discovery device that "takes the place of a series of interrogatories that defendants would likely have propounded had the patent local rules not provided for streamlined discovery." Network Caching Tech., LLC v. Novell, Inc., 2002 WL 32126128, at *4 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 13, 2002); see Bender, 2010 WL 1135762, at *2. The rule is also intended to require the party claiming infringement "to crystallize its theories of the case early in the litigation and to adhere to those theories once disclosed." Bender v. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., 2010 WL 363341, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 1, 2010). That party is required to include in its infringement contentions all facts known to it, including those discovered in its pre-filing inquiry. See Renesas Tech. Corp. v. Nanya Tech. Corp., 2004 WL 2600466, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 10, 2004).

"[A]ll courts agree that the degree of specificity under Local Rule 3-1 must be sufficient to provide reasonable notice to the defendant why the plaintiff believes it has a reasonable chance of proving infringement.'" Shared Memory Graphics LLC v. Apple, Inc., 812 F.Supp.2d 1022, 1025 (N.D. Cal. 2010) (quoting View Eng'g, Inc. v. Robotic Vision Sys., Inc., 208 F.3d 981, 986 (Fed. Cir. 2000)). While the patent rules do not "require the disclosure of specific evidence nor do they require a plaintiff to prove its infringement case, ... a patentee must nevertheless disclose what in each accused instrumentality it contends practices each and every limitation of each asserted claim to the extent appropriate information is reasonably available to it." DCG Sys. v. Checkpoint Techs., LLC, 2012 WL 1309161, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 16, 2012) (internal ...

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