Magistrate Judge Burke and Chief Judge Stark Allow Early Claim Construction of One Term

August 18, 2016

Publication| Intellectual Property

In Mastercool Inc. v. Irwin Industrial Tool Company, C.A. No. 15-1146-LPS-CJB (D. Del. July 22, 2016), Magistrate Judge Burke granted Irwin Industrial Tool Company’s (“Irwin Industrial”) motion to amend the scheduling order to allow for early claim construction of one term and set a date for an early claim construction hearing with Chief Judge Stark (preceded by ten-page opening briefs and five-page answering briefs).

Irwin Industrial (which had raised the possibility of early claim construction at the scheduling conference) moved to amend the scheduling order to allow for early construction of a single term as potentially dispositive. The plaintiff, Mastercool Inc., argued that early claim construction would needlessly duplicate effort, but offered as a compromise to brief all claim construction issues two months sooner than the current schedule permitted and to defer fact depositions until after claim construction.

Magistrate Judge Burke ruled that there was good cause to allow early claim construction, since the single term was present in all claims of the patent-in-suit, there appeared to be no dispute that Irwin Industrial’s proposed construction could be dispositive, and it was undisputed that discovery was unnecessary for claim construction of the one term.

Key Points: Magistrate Judge Burke’s oral order shows the Court’s willingness to consider requests for early claim construction, particularly if the requests are limited to a discrete term that may prove dispositive.

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