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Huang v. Nephos Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

November 12, 2019

XIAOHUA HUANG, Plaintiff,
v.
NEPHOS INC., Defendant.

          ORDER ON MOTION TO STRIKE

          WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         In this patent infringement action, accused infringer moves to strike pro se patent owner's infringement contentions, to dismiss the instant action with prejudice, and for attorney's fees. To the extent stated below, accused infringer's motion is Granted.

         STATEMENT

         A prior order has set forth the background of this case (Dkt. No. 55). In brief, pro se plaintiff Xiaohua Huang owns United States Patent Nos. 6, 744, 653 (“the '653 patent”) and 6, 999, 331 (“the '331 patent”), which patents generally involve ternary content addressable memory (“TCAM”) technology used in the semiconductor chip industry. According to plaintiff, the patents employ a TCAM design “using differential match line to achieve high speed and lower power consumption” (Dkt. No. 65-9 at 11). Plaintiff accuses defendant's chips of infringing those patents (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 8, 11).

         Since December 2018, plaintiff has been advised by defendant's counsel multiple times that his infringement contentions were non-compliant with the patent local rules. The Court has twice warned plaintiff - including a prior order dated July 9 that struck his third set of contentions for various deficiencies and offered him one more chance to amend - that failure to serve proper contentions would likely result in dismissal of his action (Dkt. No. 55 at 9). Plaintiff timely served his fourth set of infringement contentions (Dkt. No. 59). According to this new set of contentions, plaintiff accuses defendant's “Aries MT3250 Family, Aries Hybrid ToR Switch, Taurus Family NP8360 Series, Taurus ToR and Fabrics Switch” products of infringing Claims 1, 5, 8, 12, 15, and 17 of the '653 patent and Claims 1 and 9 of the '331 patent (Dkt. No. 59-1 at 1, 7).

         Defendant now moves to strike (for a second time) plaintiff's latest amended infringement contentions for failure to comply with Patent Local Rules 3-1(c)-(e), for dismissal with prejudice, and for an award of attorney's fees (Dkt. No. 65). This order follows full briefing and oral argument.

         ANALYSIS

         1. Patent Local Rule 3-1 Noncompliance.

         Defendant contends that plaintiff's fourth set of infringement contentions are still deficient under (1) Patent Local Rule 3-1(c) for failure to provide “chart[s] identifying specifically where and how each limitation of each asserted claim is found within each Accused Instrumentality”; (2) Patent Local Rule 3-1(d) for failure to identify “any direct infringement and a description of the acts of the alleged indirect infringer that contribute to or are inducing that direct infringement” for each asserted claim alleged to be indirectly infringed; and (3) Patent Local Rule 3-1(e) for failure to demonstrate “[w]hether each limitation of each asserted claim is alleged to be literally present or present under the doctrine of equivalents in the Accused Instrumentality” (Dkt. No. 65 at 1-2). See Patent L.R. 3-1(c)-(e). This order agrees.

         “Patent Local Rule 3 requires patent disclosures early in a case and streamlines discovery by replacing the series of interrogatories that parties would likely have propounded without it.” Huawei Techs., Co, Ltd v. Samsung Elecs. Co, Ltd., 340 F.Supp.3d 934, 945-46 (N.D. Cal. 2018) (quoting ASUS Comput. Int'l v. Round Rock Research, LLC, No. C 12-02099 JST (NC), 2014 WL 1463609, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 11, 2014) (Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins)). Patent Local Rule 3-1, which sets forth the requirements for disclosing asserted claims and preliminary infringement contentions, “require[s] the party claiming infringement to crystallize its theories of the case early in the litigation and to adhere to those theories once disclosed.” Shared Memory Graphics LLC v. Apple, Inc., 812 F.Supp.2d 1022, 1024 (N.D. Cal. 2010) (quoting Bender v. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc., No. C 09-1149 MMC (EMC), 2010 WL 363341, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 1, 2010) (Judge Edward Chen)). Though a plaintiff need not supply evidence of infringement, “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.” Id. at 1025; Creagri, Inc. v. Pinnaclife Inc., LLC, No. C 11-06635 LHK (PSG), 2012 WL 5389775, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 2, 2012) (Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal).

         A. Claim Chart Deficiencies.

         Patent Local Rule 3-1(c) requires plaintiff to provide “[a] chart identifying specifically where and how each limitation of each asserted claim is found within each Accused Instrumentality.”

         This order finds that plaintiff's fourth set of infringement contentions under Patent Local Rule 3-1(c) are deficient for failure to provide the required limitation-by-limitation analysis. As before, the claim charts here for both patents-in-suit are still mainly self-referential. That is, they primarily consist of plaintiff's opinion about how a claim limitation relates to a figure in the specification. The chart for ...


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