At the start of the new year, many of us are spending time looking back at where we have come from and forward to where we want to go. As part of that process, many are making resolutions to make 2015 better than ever. In that spirit, over the next several weeks, I am reposting a popular series of practice tips for the N.D. Illinois (with a focus upon IP litigation of course) that I ran a few years ago, with slight modifications for 2015.
The tips are not in a particular order of import. Why twenty-five? I found that beyond twenty five, the tips became focused upon minutia. The tips are gleaned from my practice in the Northern District, my time as a law clerk for the Hon. Gordon J. Quist in the Western District of Michigan, and my reading of all of the Northern District of Illinois intellectual property opinions over the last eight years. As you read them, let me know if you come up with others. I will be glad to include them as I go along. Here are eleven through fifteen:
11. Respect Twombly / Iqbal pleading standards. The Northern District is no different than the rest of the country’s district courts — patent infringement requirements have not changed, except that the Federal Rules form patent complaint is being done away with. But that is not necessarily the case for Lanham Act, copyright or trade secret claims. There are numerous decisions dismissing, often with leave to amend, these more fact-specific intellectual property claims. And even in the patent context plaintiffs benefit from pleading with more particularity, a fact that may become even more true as the Court adapts to the removal of the form complaint. The more detail a defendant has the more information they should disclose about their accused products or systems as part of their Local Patent Rule 2.1(b) initial disclosure document production requirements. That means that the plaintiff will have more material with which to prepare its Local Patent Rule 2.2 initial infringement contentions. Finally, regardless of the type of claim, many and perhaps most judges rely upon Twombly / Iqbal to require more than a bare recitation of the elements of affirmative defenses. So, it is especially important to add some facts to your affirmative defenses.
12. Prepare Local Rule 56.1 statements with care. This is probably the most frequent Local Rule hang up in Northern District of Illinois opinions. It is critical that movants meet the Local Rule 56.1 requirements, among others, a numbered statement of undisputed material facts supported by admissible evidence. If the facts are not supported or if they are legal conclusions, judges routinely strike or disregard them.
13. Respond to Local Rule 56.1 statements with evidence. Far too often, parties respond to Local Rule 56.1 statements without evidence. Those responses are almost always deemed admissions. Without admissible evidence to counter statements of fact they are almost always admitted.
14. Watch your judge’s webpage. Each judge maintains the equivalents of standing orders on their webpage, often in multiple places and links across the page. It is critical that you read them at the beginning of your case and that you recheck them regularly. At a minimum, check them before you file anything with the Court. I find that the website instructions change with much greater frequency than the old, paper standing orders did. And while judges try to make it easy to see what they change, if you are not looking you will miss it.
15. Always file notices of motion. In some districts, notices of motions are not required or even discouraged. In the Northern District of Illinois, they are required of every motion. If you fail to file one, you will likely hear from the Clerk’s office. Also, make sure to file the notice after the motion, not before. If you file the notice before the motion, you will generally have to refile it.