Del. Judge Postpones Aug. Patent Trial After Cox's Virus Plea

By Dani Kass
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Law360 (July 15, 2020, 8:58 PM EDT) -- A Delaware federal judge on Wednesday caved to Cox Communications Inc.'s plea to delay a patent infringement trial scheduled to begin on Aug. 18, given the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. District Judge Richard Andrews' oral order didn't include any information beyond agreeing to postpone the trial. Whenever it's rescheduled, Cox will be defending itself from allegations that it infringed ChanBond LLC's high-speed networking patents.

Counsel for the parties didn't immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

In a Tuesday letter to the court, Cox requested the trial be pushed to November, by which time "the current health crisis will hopefully be under control."

This case was supposed to be the first of 13 related infringement suits filed by ChanBond to go to trial, but Cox's letter said "a trial conducted under the present circumstances will not provide a bellwether."

"Presenting all witnesses by video, and limiting the number of counsel who can appear live, might substantially impact the trial presentation," Cox said. "Many courts acknowledge that remote testimony impairs a factfinder's ability to judge credibility."

ChanBond responded that it was fine with delaying the trial, but also that it "comes as no surprise to ChanBond, as Cox and the other defendants have sought to delay trial in these matters since these cases were filed."

In addition to Cox, ChanBon has sued companies including Charter Communications Inc., Time Warner Cable Inc. and Comcast Corp. for alleged infringement of these patents. The cases were filed in 2015.

The delay comes during the same week Delaware's chief judge rescheduled another jury trial planned for August, this one between Sunoco and Magellan Midstream over gasoline patents. In that case, U.S. District Judge Leonard Stark scrapped an "experimental" plan to have jurors attend in-person with witnesses testifying remotely due to the pandemic. While Magellan was fine with going to trial, Sunoco pushed for the delay, citing an increase in COVID-19 cases in the state.

The patents-in-suit are U.S. Patent Nos. 7,941,822; 8,341,679; and 8,984,565.

ChanBond is represented by Robert A. Whitman, Mark S. Raskin, John F. Petrsoric, Michael DeVincenzo and Andrea Pacelli of King & Wood Mallesons and Stephen B. Brauerman of Bayard PA.

Cox is represented by Jennifer Ying of Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP.

The case is ChanBond LLC vs. Cox Communications Inc., case number 1:15-cv-00842, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware

--Additional reporting by Craig Clough and Sarah Jarvis. Editing by Daniel King.

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