Last month, the District of Massachusetts presented for comment proposed amendments to Local Rule 16.6, which governs patent litigation within the district. The proposed changes are fairly substantial. The proposed rule would require disclosure of infringement contentions and claim charts within 21 days of the initial scheduling conference, with an identification of all accused products or methods a part of the analysis. The Markman hearing would be conducted within nine months of the initial scheduling conference and trial would take place within 24 months of the initial scheduling conference. These changes should result in cases moving more quickly to trial, as currently cases take an average of three years to reach a jury. The rules would also require early disclosure of the real parties-in-interest, proof of ownership of the asserted patents, and early production of documents concerning conception and reduction to practice of the claimed inventions. A conference concerning the sufficiency of these disclosures must take place within 21 days, after which the accused infringer would have an additional 21 days to produce documents showing the operation, construction and performance of the accused products or methods, provide samples of the accused products or permit inspection of the products or methods, produce source code, and provide non-infringement and invalidity claim charts and supporting documents. The proposed rule includes a default protective order that allows for early disclosure of confidential information where the parties have not agreed on a protective order. A set of guidelines and a timetable are provided for handling Markman proceedings. The public comment period extends through January 26, 2018.
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