On March 19, 2009 the full court met and approved local rules for patent infringement cases for the Northern District Court of Illinois. These local rules are designed to stream line the patent litigation process to help reduce costs, fees and the time it takes to get to a jury trial.
Currently, the average time to get to a jury trial is about 4.7 years. However, the proposed local rules hope to cut this time down to about 2 years. The local rules require an Answer to a Complaint within 7 weeks and build in a one time extension of 28 days to Answer or otherwise plead. The local rules require initial disclosures similar to 26.1 (a) (1), but are particularized for patent litigation.
The rules set a deadline to get to final contentions regarding infringement, non-infringement, and invalidity. In addition, the rules provide a schedule for claim construction or markman briefs and hearing. After the court’s claim construction or markman ruling, the rules permit an additional 42 days to conduct fact discovery.
Upon completion of fact discovery the rules set deadlines for expert discovery, dispositive motions and the trial is supposed to take place within 23 months from the date the Complaint was filed. (See rules below for specific deadlines or time periods). The proposed rules were a collaborative effort by the local bar and judges to make the practice of patent litigation more efficient.
Through the hard work of many lawyers and judges these rules do not seem to favor either Plaintiffs or Defendants. This is not the rocket docket, but a balancing of interests to provide an efficient litigation process. However, it remains to be seen how the local rules will be adopted or modified for counter-claim or third party practice.
Attached is a copy of the local rules for patent infringement claims in the Northern District of Illinois for your consideration: Proposed Local Rules for Patent Cases