May 30, 2014 Articles

Delaware's Judge Stark Outlines New Patent Case Management Practices

"The times they are a-changin.'"

By Chad S.C. Stover

The Hon. Leonard P. Stark of the District of Delaware, who will soon be the district's chief judge, has announced that he is changing the way he manages patent cases. He outlined the coming changes at a May 13th CLE presentation sponsored by the Delaware Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. 

Chief Judge Rader Sets the Stage

The CLE presentation began with Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Rader singing Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'" with new lyrics emphasizing needed changes in U.S. patent litigation. After his musical interlude, Judge Rader went on to talk about the unreasonably high cost of patent litigation in the United States as opposed to other countries—which is largely the result of the broad discovery allowed in the United States—and the difficulties in attempting to categorize and curb "patent trolls" through legislation.  He believes that district court judges are in the best position to recognize and stop abusive litigation practices.  As to out-of-control litigation costs, Judge Rader proposed limiting the amount of discovery because 90 percent of the relevant documents are known to the parties before discovery even begins. He said he "believes in a little injustice," meaning that ignoring the final 10 percent of the documents would have only a de minimus effect on outcomes in exchange for a dramatic increase in efficiency. 

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