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University of Pittsburgh of the Commonwealth System of Higher v. Varian Medical Systems

March 19, 2012

UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH OF THE COMMONWEALTH SYSTEM OF HIGHER EDUCATION D/B/A UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH,
PLAINTIFF,
v.
VARIAN MEDICAL SYSTEMS, INC.,
DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Arthur J. Schwab United States District Court Judge

ELECTRONICALLY FILED

Memorandum Opinion on Defense of Laches

I. Introduction

Currently pending before this Court in this patent litigation are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment (doc. nos. 673, 679) and responses thereto (doc. nos. 707, 714). After careful consideration, the Court finds that the defense of laches is not applicable to the facts of this case, and therefore, plaintiff's motion for summary judgment (doc. no. 673) will be GRANTED; and defendant's motion for summary judgment (doc. no. 679) will be DENIED.

II. Standard of Review

Summary Judgment is appropriate when it is apparent from the entire record, viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, that there are no genuine issues of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-24 (1986). One of the principal purposes of the summary judgment rule is to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims or defenses. Therefore, summary judgment is required against a party who fails to make a sufficient showing to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id. at 322. The summary judgment inquiry asks whether there is a need for trial - - whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250 (1986).

III. This Court's Extensive Prior Involvement with this Case

Over the past five years, this Court has had substantial involvement in this litigation. Although it would take dozens of pages to detail the tasks that this Court has undertaken in order to advance this case to its current procedural state (730 docket entries as of March 19, 2012), a brief summary is as follows:

 Pitt sued Varian for, inter alia, infringement of the '554 patent on April 13, 2007 (Varian I), and this Court dismissed the case with prejudice for lack of standing, because, at that time, Pitt was not the sole owner of the '554 patent. Univ. of Pittsburgh v. Varian Med. Sys. Inc., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36098 (W.D. Pa. April 30, 2008).  The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit determined that the dismissal should have been "without prejudice." Univ. of Pittsburgh v. Varian Med. Sys. Inc., 569 F.3d 1328 (Fed. Cir. 2009).  On June 16, 2008, the other patent owner assigned Pitt all of its rights to the '554 patent.

Doc. No. 1, Ex. A. This case, Varian II, was transferred to this Court from the Northern District of California on September 23, 2008 (doc. no. 83) and, after another ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, the parties stipulated that the '554 patent infringement litigation would proceed as Varian II. Univ. of Pittsburgh v. Varian Med. Sys. Inc., 2010 U.S. App. LEXIS 9542 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 27, 2010).  This Court undertook a detailed review of the Special Master's Report and Recommendation on claim construction, and issued an Opinion Adopting and Modifying the Special Master's Report and Recommendation. Doc. No. 302; see Univ. of Pittsburgh v. Varian Med. Sys. Inc., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52059 (W.D. Pa. May 16, 2011).  The parties then filed Motions for Summary Judgment (doc. nos. 363, 364). This Court spent a substantial amount of time reviewing thousands of pages of accompanying declarations and exhibits thereto, and then issued an Opinion granting Pitt partial summary judgment, finding Varian had infringed the '554 patent. Doc. No. 432; see Univ. of Pittsburgh v. Varian Med. Sys. Inc., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 149685 (W.D. Pa. Dec. 30, 2011).  This Court trifurcated the trial in accordance with Fed. R. Civ. P. 42(b). In preparing for trial, this Court has reviewed over 10,000 pages of exhibits in making determinations on authenticity/admissibility. Doc. Nos. 494, 624; Text Order of January 17, 2012. This Court also has ruled on over a dozen Motions In Limine. Doc. Nos. 600, 623.  This Court presided over a four-day trial on the issue of willfulness, which included 11 witnesses and reference to over 50 exhibits. Doc. Nos. 539, 540.

 This Court then presided over a three-day trial on the issue of damages, which included 7 witnesses and reference to over 20 exhibits. Doc. Nos. 664, 665.

 This Court has reviewed over 2,000 pages of declarations and exhibits thereto while considering the Motions currently before this Court. Doc. Nos. 673, 679.

 The trial on invalidity will take place the week of April 16, 2012.

Thus, this Court has had countless opportunities over the past five years to assess the evidence, evaluate the credibility of witnesses, and note the consistencies (or lack thereof) in the arguments of the parties in litigation which, to date, has generated over 1,000 docket entries in the two related actions.

IV. Legal Standard

A laches defense may be available in a patent case, and it will operate to reduce damages if defendant is able to show that plaintiff unreasonably delayed in initiating a suit and that such ...


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