By an opinion rendered by the Honorable Mary Pat Thynge, dated February 5, 2010, in Inline Corp. v. Earthlink, Inc., the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware granted the motion for judgment as a matter of law of plaintiff, Inline Connection Corporation ("Inline"), as to the jury’s patent invalidity verdict, but denied the motion as to the jury’s non-infringement verdict. The Court also denied Inline’s motion for a new trial.
By way of background, in June 2002, Inline filed suit against Earthlink, Inc. ("Earthlink") alleging infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 5,844,596 ("the ‘596 patent"), 6,243,446 ("the ‘446 patent") and another patent. In 2003, Inline added its U.S. Patent No. 6,542,585 ("the ‘585 patent") to the litigation.
The trial in the matter commenced in February 2007. During trial, Inline asserted infringement of the following by Earthlink: 1) claim 61 of the ‘596 patent; 2) claims1 through 5 of the ‘446 patent; and 3) claims 1,2, 4, 8 and 9 of the ‘585 patent. Earthlink denied infringement and alleged that the asserted claims were invalid because they were anticipated and obvious, and the patents failed to comply with the written description and enablement requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 112.
The jury returned a verdict in favor of Earthlink of non-infringement and that the asserted claims were invalid as anticipated and obvious, and the patent failed to comply with the written description and enabling requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 112. Thereafter, Inline renewed its motion for judgment as a matter of law pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50(a) and, in the alternative, moved for a new trial pursuant to Rule 59(a).
Upon careful analysis of the jury’s verdicts and the record, the Court concluded that there was not substantial evidence to support the jury’s verdict on anticipation and that the record could not support the jury’s verdict on obviousness. The Court also concluded that there was not substantial evidence to support the jury’s verdict of invalidity of the patents for failure to comply with the written description and enablement requirements of 35 U.S.C. § 112. The Court further concluded that there was substantial evidence in the record to support the jury’s verdict on non-infringement, and the jury’s verdict of non-infringement was not "contrary to the great weight of the evidence", or "wholly irrational" as to warrant the granting of a new trial on the infringement issue.