There are deadlines and then there are DEADLINES.
Civil litigators must adhere to every deadline in every instance forever.
This is a good basic “best practices” rule.
But the fact is that some deadlines are deadly and some deadlines, most civil litigators will sheepishly admit, are “more honored in the breach” (that is, in the improper sense of that misused phrase from Shakespeare’s Hamlet).
Patent litigation is one area of civil litigation where deadlines can blow up and kick out some lethal shrapnel…
Patent litigation is among the most complex litigation in our system for obvious reasons. First, it often involves minute details in cutting edge technology. Second, it sometimes involves a lot of money (justifying investment in lengthy costly litigation).
For this reason, courts tend to impose certain deadlines in patent litigation strictly in order to hold down the cost of such litigation.
So, if a litigant is charged with disclosure of its theories of patent invalidity or non-infringement at one point in the litigation, it might find itself in a world of pain if it thinks up a new angle of attack (or defense) later on in the case…
This appears to have happened this week to a patent litigation defendant in U.S. District Court (D. Minn.) in a relatively small stakes patent case. In fact, the low stakes involved played into the Court’s decision to strike late defenses raised by Defendant Crown Crafts, Inc. The Court has already cautioned the parties and counsel that they appear to be over-investing in this contentious litigation. To permit deadlines to be overlooked without compelling circumstances would take aggravate what is already an excessive blood-letting from the Court’s perspective.