Motions Federal Court Cases
An essential part of any federal litigation is “motion practice.” Motion practice involves the drafting and filing of written requests to the court supported by carefully crafted and cited legal arguments. Such arguments may be supported by federal laws or prior court case decisions that have precedence in that federal jurisdiction. First the moving party files a motion for relief, then the opposing party files its opposition to the motion, and finally the moving party files a reply to the opposition.
Oftentimes a judge will rule on the written briefs alone without oral arguments, but at times the judge may hold a motion hearing for the attorneys to verbally argue and defend the positions.
Motions to Dismiss
At the outset of a case, rather than file an Answer to the complaint a defendant has an opportunity to file a motion to dismiss. Motions to dismiss often relate to procedural issues and claims such as:
- The complaint was not served correctly
- The court lacks venue or jurisdiction over the issue or defendant
- The plaintiff lacks standing to sue or has failed to include a necessary party
The most common ground for a motion to dismiss is a claim that the plaintiff has failed to state a claim. A 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim takes the position that, even if the facts listed in the complaint are true, the complaint is still not sufficient to make a prima facie case of infringement.
Motions for Summary Judgment
One of the most important motions in any type of federal litigation—including intellectual property cases—is called a motion for summary judgment. In civil litigation, the jury listens to disputed facts and serves as a factfinder to determine who should prevail in the matter. However, after the parties exchange information and evidence in discovery, one party may believe that there aren’t any disputed facts and, therefore, the judge should rule in their favor as a matter of law. Such a request is made by filing a motion for summary judgment.
Summary judgment may be sought regarding certain issues in a claim or the entirety of the case. In either situation, a motion must be sufficiently supported by facts and legal assertions in order to succeed. Some common issues that may be resolved by a motion for summary judgment include:
- The validity or invalidity of intellectual property ownership rights
- Whether or not the defendant infringed on those rights
- Damages in the case, such as whether the plaintiff lost profits due to infringement
Resolving any issues through summary judgment can save resources during the remainder of the case and at trial. Obtaining summary judgment can also eliminate the need for a trial altogether. Therefore, it is critical to have an experienced intellectual property attorney who can identify when summary judgment may be appropriate and who understands how to effectively argue and defend motions for summary judgment.
Other Pre-Trial Motions
If a judge denies a motion for summary judgment or only grants summary judgment for certain issues in a case, the case will proceed to a trial. Prior to trial, both sides will have the opportunity to file different types of pre-trial motions that can resolve issues related to the trial itself. The following are some examples of common pre-trial motions in federal intellectual property cases:
Motions to Bifurcate
Intellectual property cases can involve many different complex issues. Sometimes, one or both parties may request that the court split—or bifurcate—the trial into different parts, with each part addressing different issues in the case. Bifurcation can be requested for several reasons. The following are common requests in motions to bifurcate:
- To separate liability questions from the determination of damages; this is common when damages questions are especially complex.
- To have a bench trial (in front of only the judge) to rule on defenses presented to avoid prejudice at a later jury trial from hearing the evidence for or against defenses.
Motions Regarding Experts
Expert opinions are often a major component in intellectual property cases. During the discovery period, each side should learn about the analysis and opinions that the other side plans to present to the jury. If one side wants to prevent a certain expert from presenting certain opinions, they can request this in a pre-trial motion. These motions are referred to as “Daubert motions” and are common when one party doubts the scientific validity or methodology of an expert opinion, when the expert testimony involves irrelevant issues, or when the other side failed to report the expert opinions in a timely manner. Because expert testimony can be very persuasive in intellectual property cases, these motions can be essential to keep out evidence that the jury should not hear.
Motions in Limine
Motions in limine are filed just before trial to resolve certain issues before the trial begins and before a jury is present. Any information heard by the members of the jury can influence their opinions. Therefore, it is often beneficial to resolve certain evidentiary matters prior to a trial instead of through objections in front of the jury.
Motions in limine can contain many requests including:
- To exclude certain testimony or evidence that may be overly prejudicial or irrelevant
- To exclude the use of certain prejudicial terms such as “monopoly” or “patent troll”
- To exclude testimony regarding past acts of one party that are irrelevant to the case at hand
Contact Mandour & Associates, APC Today
Federal civil litigation is a complicated process and you should always be represented by an attorney who has significant experience with the federal court system and in intellectual property cases. If you have a dispute regarding any type of intellectual property, please do not hesitate to contact our office for representation or more information by clicking here: contact.