EDVA District Court Judge Payne denied the accused infringers’ motion to stay a patent infringement suit pending the outcome of reexamination of the patents-in-suit in ePlus, Inc. v. Lawson Software, Inc., Civil Action No. 3:09-cv-620 (E.D.Va. March 31, 2010). ePlus filed a patent infringement suit in May, 2009, against Lawson Software, Inc., and others alleging infringement of its patents covering electronic sourcing systems, which allow potential buyers to identify items for purchase in a plurality of electronic catalogs and create a requisition order for purchase of the selected items.
SAP America, Inc. and SAP AG had filed for an ex parte reexamination of one of the patents-in-suit. The USPTO ordered reexamination of the patent. ePlus’ appeal to the BPAI in the ex parte reexamination proceeding has not yet been decided. Later Lawson filed an inter partes reexamination request against other patents-in-suit.
Judge Payne considered the standard set forth in Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248 (1936) to determine: (1) whether discovery was complete and a trial date was scheduled; (2) whether a stay would simplify the matters at issue; and (3) whether a stay would unduly prejudice the court proceedings or clearly disadvantage the non-moving party.
Judge Payne determined that because the trial date was set for September, 2010, the first factor weighed against a stay. As to the second factor, he noted that completion of the reexamination proceedings would simplify some of the claim validity questions at issue, particularly if there were final rejections of the patent claims by the USPTO upheld on appeal requiring dismissal of the patent infringement suit or encouraging the parties to settle. Although the outcomes of the patent reexamination proceedings would not dispose of all the issues, in litigation such as subject matter eligibility for patenting, claim indefiniteness, improper inventorship, or inequitable conduct raised by the defendants, the Judge found this factor weighed in favor of granting a stay of the litigation.
However, the Court concluded that ePlus made a strong showing of prejudice, because of the lengthy delay that the stay would impose on the litigation, and the probability that it could lose its right to injunctive relief if the patents expired prior to completion of the reexamination proceedings. The lengthy process of reexamination compelled the Judge to deny the motion for stay of the litigation in order to proceed to trial.