Boss v. Yamaha (Fed. Cir. 2009)
Boss sued Yamaha for infringement of its patents covering a snowmobile seat. After an unfavorable claim construction, Boss admitted that it could not prove infringement. On appeal, the Federal Circuit affirmed the construction and the verdict of noninfringement.
The interesting portion of the opinion focused on the alleged discovery abuses by Yamaha’s counsel. Although a moot point (because Boss did not appeal its motion for sanctions that had been denied), the Federal Circuit felt compelled to at least verbally admonish the attorneys “unacceptable” conduct.
[I]t appears from the record presented to us that Yamaha’s discovery practices were less than commendable. For example, on several occasions Yamaha date-stamped documents to be filed with the district court using the court’s time stamp, but did not actually place the document in the court’s drop-box at that time. Rather, Yamaha actually filed the documents, by placing them in the drop-box, several days after the “filed” stamp was placed on the documents. After the district court realized that this was not an isolated incident, but happened several times, it admonished Yamaha, stating that “[t]his deceitful conduct will not be tolerated” and that this inappropriate practice “is particularly egregious when . . . the court is liberal in granting extensions of time.” The court further noted that “counsel in this case have been admonished before about the gamesmanship that has been taking place in this lawsuit.” In addition, regarding Yamaha’s interpretation of communications with the district court, the court further characterized Yamaha’s actions as “unreasonabl[e]” and “disingenuous.” This type of conduct during litigation is unacceptable and reflects a lack of respect for both the opposing party and the court.
Despite the ruling on misconduct, Yamaha walks away without any sanctions.