July 21, 2009Client Alert

Western District of Wisconsin to Remain a Rocket Docket in Patent Cases

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin recently announced that trial dates in patent cases will be 15 months from the Scheduling Conference, emphasizing there will be no extensions of time. This provides real certainty and advantages to patent litigants in the Western District of Wisconsin.

The Court's new guidelines for patent cases were announced on July 8, 2009 during a Scheduling Conference. In addition to setting trials 15 months from the Scheduling Conference, the Court noted that other pre-trial dates would be locked and would not be moved.

The Court's new guidelines include setting the dispositive motion deadline approximately six months before trial. This provides a bit more time between summary judgment and trial than has been standard in this Court. The additional time between summary judgment and trial permits the Court to rule on summary judgment motions well in advance of trial, while saving patent litigants the costs of preparing for a trial that may be obviated by the Court's summary judgment ruling. Previously, given the short window between summary judgment and trial, patent litigants had to prepare for trial while awaiting the summary judgment decision. This additional time window now gives patent litigants a break as litigants can hold off on full trial preparations until after summary judgment is decided.

Another significant change is that infringement charts are now required from the Plaintiff with the Rule 26 disclosures. Previously, there was no requirement that the Plaintiff provide infringement charts for cases assigned to Judge Crabb, and the parties typically exchanged infringement and invalidity charts in response to interrogatories.

The Court stressed that because of the new set schedule, any requests for extensions will be denied. The new schedule was partly created in order to set concrete scheduling dates and deadlines. The Court emphasized that extensions are no longer needed and that the new schedule should be sufficient to permit parties to meet all deadlines.

Notably, the Western District is awaiting appointment of two new judges. The Western District Bar Association has specifically notified the Wisconsin judiciary search committee of its interest in continuing the "rocket docket." It remains to be seen if the new District Court judge(s) will adopt the new guidelines or return to the standard 12 months to trial schedule. In the meantime though, patent litigants can expect regularity: 15 months from Scheduling Conference to trial in the Western District of Wisconsin. Significantly, even with the additional three months to trial, the Western District still is one of the fastest courts in the country for patent cases.

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