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Argentum Medical, LLC v. Noble Biomaterials

September 21, 2010

ARGENTUM MEDICAL, LLC, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NOBLE BIOMATERIALS, AND DERMA SCIENCES, INC., DEFENDANTS.
NOBLE BIOMATERIALS, COUNTER-CLAIM PLAINTIFF,
v.
ARGENTUM MEDICAL, LLC, THOMAS MILLER AND GREGG SILVER, COUNTER-CLAIM DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Caputo

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion for Reconsideration of this Court's July 1, 2010 Memorandum and Order. For the reasons discussed more fully below, Plaintiffs' Motion will be denied.

BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

This case relates to United States Patent Number 7,230,153 ("the '153 patent"), which discloses a Multi-Layer Conductive Appliance Having Wound Healing and Analgesic Properties. The '153 patent names A. Bart Flick as its inventor and Argentum International, LLC ("International") as the assignee. International and Argentum then entered into a license agreement, effective on March 28, 2001, that granted Argentum exclusive rights in the '549 patent applications and all continuations, continuations-in-part, and divisionals filed on that application. (Doc 177, Ex. T.) Flick testified in his deposition that the date of this license agreement did not reflect the actual date that the agreement was signed, and that it was not signed until some time in 2003. (Flick Dep. 96:4-8, July 14, 2009.) According to Flick, the license agreement was backdated "as a mechanism to hide assets from the Plaintiffs" in a case against International. (Flick Dep. 98:25-99:2.)

There is also an Assignment of Patent, wherein International assigned the '549 patent to Argentum Research, Inc. ("Research"); this assignment was signed on February 25, 2001, over a month prior to the effective date of the transfer between International and Argentum. (Doc. 177, Ex. T.) This assignment transferred to Research "the entire right, title, and interest in and to the ['549 patent], and in and to all inventions and improvements disclosed and described in [the '549 patent], and to any reissue and other applications therefor." (Doc. 177, Ex. T.) However, on February 15, 2005, Research and International entered into a nunc pro tunc assignment supposedly effective as of February 25, 2001; this transfer assigned the rights in the '549 patent and any continuations or continuations-in-part from Research back to International.

B. Procedural Background

The current case was initiated by Plaintiffs\Counterclaim Defendants ("Argentum") against Defendants in the Northern District of Illinois on December 3, 2007. On April 21, 2008, Argentum filed an Amended Complaint bringing four (4) counts against the Defendants. (Am. Compl., Doc. 45.) Count I of the Amended Complaint alleged a patent infringement claims against Defendants Noble and Derma. Count II alleged a false designation of origin claim against Derma. Counts III and IV alleged state law claims for deceptive trade practices and tortious interference with a prospective economic advantage by Derma.

On October 27, 2009, Derma and Noble filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on all claims asserted against them in the Second Amended Complaint, and on Count I of Noble's counterclaims, seeking Declaratory Judgment of the Invalidity of the '153 patent. (Doc. 153.) Argentum also filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on its claim for patent infringement (Count I), on October 27, 2009. (Doc. 154.) Derma also filed a separate Motion for Summary Judgment on Counts II, III, and IV of the Second Amended Complaint. (Doc. 157.)

On July 1, 2010, this Court dismissed Count I of Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint, the patent infringement claim, denied Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment, and granted Defendant Derma's Motion for Summary Judgment. Regarding the dismissal of Count I, this Court found that Plaintiff Argentum lacked standing to bring the patent infringement claim since it never had title to the patent it purported to sue on. Essentially, this Court did not find the nunc pro tunc assignment on February 15, 2005 between Argentum Research and Argentum International to be a legally effective remedy to the illegitimate March 28, 2001 dated assignment between Argentum International and Argentum. Plaintiff Argentum then filed this Motion for Reconsideration on July 17, 2010, asking the Court to alter its ruling and find that Argentum does have standing to bring a patent infringement claim.

LEGAL STANDARD

A motion for reconsideration is governed by Rule 59(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which allows a party to move to alter or amend a judgment within ten days of entry. FED. R. CIV. P. 59(e). The purpose of a motion for reconsideration is to correct manifest errors of law or fact or to present newly discovered evidence. Harsco Corp. v. Zlotnicki, 779 F.2d 906, 909 (3d Cir.1985). A judgment may be altered or amended if the party seeking reconsideration establishes at least one of the following grounds: "(1) an intervening change in controlling law; (2) the availability of new evidence that was not available when the court granted the motion . . . or (3) the need to correct a clear error of law or fact or to prevent manifest injustice." Max's Seafood Café, by Lou-Ann, Inc., v. Quinteros, 176 F.3d 669, 677 (3d Cir.1999). "A motion for reconsideration is not to be used as a means to reargue matters already argued and disposed of or as an attempt to relitigate a point of disagreement between the Court and the litigant." Ogden v. Keystone Residence, 226 F. Supp.2d 588, 606 (M.D. Pa. 2002). "[R]econsideration motions may not be used to raise new arguments or present evidence that could have been raised prior to the entry of judgment." Hill v. Tammac Corp., Civ. A. No. 05-1148, 2006 WL 529044, at *2 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 3, 2006). The reconsideration of a judgment is an extraordinary remedy, and such motions are granted sparingly. D'Angio v. Borough of Nescopeck, 56 F. Supp.2d 502, 504 (M.D. Pa. 1999).

DISCUSSION

Argentum's Motion for Reconsideration fails because it does not meet the legal standard required for it to be granted. Argentum offers two bases for reconsideration of this Court's ruling on their lack of standing to bring the patent infringement claim: (1) case law that purports to show that nunc pro tunc conveyances are in fact legally effective; and (2) an argument that even if the nunc pro tunc conveyance was legally ineffective, Argentum International still had obtained the necessary rights from Argentum Research by February 2005, and therefore Argentum was in possession of those rights, ...


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