This post is our latest review of noteworthy case developments in the Eastern and Northern Districts of Texas for the month of September 2020. Three subjects stand out this month: (1) relief due to COVID pandemic; (2) apex executive depositions; and (3) staying district court cases pending IPR.
Clear Imaging Research, LLC v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. et al, 2:19-cv-00326 (Sep. 4, 2020, E.D. Tex.)
The parties filed a motion requesting the court hold a virtual hearing on claim construction due to the COVID outbreak. Magistrate Judge Payne denied the motion, reasoning that although “counsel reside in different areas of the United States and will travel to the Courthouse . . . [t]he Court does not believe at this time that this alone is sufficient to meet good cause [to hold a virtual hearing].” Id. at 1.
National Oilwell Varco, LP v. Auto-Dril, Inc., 5:15-cv-00027 (Sep. 10, 2020, E.D. Tex.)
Plaintiff filed an unopposed motion to extend the discovery and dispositive motion deadlines due to the COVID pandemic, stating only that the parties’ ability to meet case deadlines was severely hindered due to the pandemic. Judge Schroeder denied the motion and stated that something more than generalized concerns about COVID is required to establish good cause. Id. at 1.
Team Worldwide Corporation v. Academy, Ltd. d/b/a Academy Sports & Outdoors, 2:19-cv-00092 (Sep. 11, 2020, E.D. Tex.)
Defendants filed a motion to modify the court’s standing order disallowing in-person depositions conducted during the COVID pandemic. After due consideration, Magistrate Judge Payne granted Defendants’ motion and “ordered that Defendants [be] exempted from the current standing order restriction against in-person depositions[.]” Id. at 1.
Lexington Luminance LLC v. Elong International USA Inc., 3:20-cv-00532 (Sep. 15, 2020, N.D. Tex.)
The court granted defendant’s motion to quash plaintiff’s subpoena to depose defendant’s president under the apex doctrine because plaintiff had failed to establish the need to depose defendant’s president at the beginning of discovery. Judge Godbey first rejected plaintiff’s “argu[ment] that the apex executive doctrine does not apply  due to the size of [defendant].” Id. at 3. Judge Godbey then stated that “the applicable test is whether the executive possesses unique personal knowledge of relevant facts in this suit,” and reasoned that because plaintiff had not “show[n] that [it] has pursued less intrusive means of obtaining the information it seeks, [it] has not shown that a lesser-ranking [defendant] employee does not possess similar knowledge as [the president].” Id.
Acorn Semi, LLC v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. et al, 2:19-cv-00347 (Sep. 14, 2020, E.D. Tex.)
SpaceTime3D, Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. et al, 2:19-cv-00372 (Sep. 23, 2020, E.D. Tex.)
The court denied without prejudice defendants’ motion to stay the case pending their petitions for IPR because “the PTAB ha[d] yet to institute post-grant proceedings.” Id. at 2. Judge Gilstrap concluded that defendants’ “motion [was] premature, and a stay of [district court] proceedings in advance of the PTAB’s decision on whether or not to institute inter partes review of any of the Asserted Patents should be denied.” Id.