Monday, June 02, 2008

MetLife and Bancorp tussle over financial services patent 5,926,792

In Met Life v. Bancorp, the CAFC addresses patent claims in the financial services area. If you recognize the term COLI/BOLI, you will be at home with this opinion.

As in the days of biotech, the CAFC refers to an earlier opinion in order to give a cite to background concepts: Bancorp Services LLC v. Hartford Life Insurance Co., 359 F.3d 1367, 1369 (Fed. Cir. 2004).

The CAFC accepted the district court claim construction, and, for authority, cited: AquaTex Indus., Inc. v. Techniche Solutions, 479 F.3d 1320, 1328 (Fed. Cir. 2007).

HOWEVER, the district court did not get a walk on a 56(f) motion: First, we conclude that Bancorp’s motion for discovery pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(f) should have been granted.2 We apply the law of the regional
circuit and review the district court’s determination as to the Rule 56(f) motion for abuse
of discretion. See Nat’l Bank of Commerce v. Dow Chem. Co., 165 F.3d 602, 606 (8th
Cir. 1998) (en banc). [Here, Judge Carol Jackson of ED Mo abused her discretion.]

Also: (“[S]ummary judgment is proper ‘only after the nonmovant has had adequate time
for discovery.’” (quoting In re TMJ Litig.ation, 113 F.3d 1484, 1490 (8th Cir. 1997))); see also Costello, Porter, Hill, Heisterkamp & Bushnell v. Providers Fidelity Life Ins. Co.,
958 F.2d 836, 837-39 (8th Cir. 1992) (“Summary judgment is inappropriate until
Providers has had an adequate opportunity to conduct discovery.”)

The CAFC even gives a review of the law of other circuits:

While we look to Eighth Circuit law, this is the prevailing rule in all circuits.
See, e.g., Info. Handling Servs., Inc. v. Defense Automated Printing Servs., 338 F.3d
1024, 1036 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (“[T]o the extent there is any doubt about the genuineness
of those disputes, it cannot be resolved until IHS is given adequate time for discovery.”
(internal quotation marks omitted)); Burnside-Ott Aviation Training Ctr., Inc. v. United
States, 985 F.2d 1574, 1582 (Fed. Cir. 1993) (“[S]ummary judgment should ‘be refused
where the nonmoving party has not had the opportunity to discover information that is
essential to [its] opposition.’” (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
250 n.5 (1986))); Wichita Falls Office Assocs. v. Banc One Corp., 978 F.2d 915, 920
(5th Cir. 1992) (“[W]hen a party is seeking discovery that is germane to the pending
summary judgment motion it is inequitable to pull out the rug from under them by
denying such discovery.”); Cowan v. J.C. Penney Co., Inc., 790 F.2d 1529, 1532-33
(11th Cir. 1986) (“[G]enerally, summary judgment is premature when the moving party
has not answered the opponent's interrogatories[,] . . . especially . . . where [the] . . .
interrogatories . . . request information that is critical to the issues in dispute.”); Glen
Eden Hosp., Inc. v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mich., Inc., 740 F.2d 423, 428 (6th
Cir. 1984) (holding denial of rule 56(f) motion improper where party moving for summary
judgment had not been “extremely forthcoming” with respect to document requests and
interlocutory appeal had interrupted discovery); see also 10B Charles Alan Wright,
Arthur R. Miller & Mary Kay Kane, Federal Practice and Procedure § 2741, at 413-16 & (...)

The CAFC also noted that the district court improperly made a credibility determination in its summary judgment

There was thus a direct conflict in the declarations as to a material fact under
MetLife’s interpretation of the claims—i.e., whether the spreadsheet calculations were
used to administer the policies. The district court dismissed this conflict by crediting the
MetLife declarations. Resolving such credibility disputes, however, is not appropriate
on summary judgment.
See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986)
(“Credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate
inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge, whether he is ruling on
a motion for summary judgment or for a directed verdict.”); see also, e.g., Pritchett v.
Cottrell, Inc., 512 F.3d 1057, 1063 (8th Cir. 2008) (“In considering a motion for summary
judgment, we do not weigh the evidence, make credibility determinations, or attempt to
discern the truth of any factual issue.”


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