Scott Daniels | March 24, 2011

On a number of occasions we have described the difficulty faced by District Courts in trying to balance the conflicting interests of potential prejudice to the non-moving party and possible simplification of issues (here).  In each case trial judges try to do what is just in view of their own judicial experience. 

And yet, the courts sometimes seem to look at the same facts and arrive at different conclusions.  This phenomenon was on display Monday when two different judges, ruling on stay motions, considered the factor of whether a stay would simplify the issues, in view of the PTO’s statistics on the survival rate of patent claims in inter partes reexamination.  Two judges looking at precisely the same statistics arrived at opposite conclusions.

In PDS Electronics v. Hi-Z Antennas, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29211, Judge John R. Adams of the Northern District of Ohio took

judicial notice of the statistic from the PTO’s Quarterly Report that only 11% of inter partes reexamination result in confirmation of all of the claims presented. Therefore, it is highly likely that the issues in the present case will be affected by the outcome of the ‘588 reexamination. A stay pending these proceedings would allow the parties to preserve their resources by simplifying the issues in question. (Emphasis added).

Balancing simplification with the other factors, Judge Adams granted the stay motion.  By contrast Judge Ted Stewart of Utah in Quest Software v. Centrify drew the opposite conclusion from the PTO data, finding that

it is not clear whether a stay will simplify the issues. There is a good chance that at least some of the claims of the ‘501 will survive the reexamination process, leaving the Court and the parties in the same position they are in now, only months or years later. With such uncertainty, a stay is not appropriate. (Emphasis added).

 Judge Stewart denied the stay.

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