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Federal Circuit Issues Precedential Decision Concerning Timeliness of LG Appeal

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On Tuesday, the appellate court denied LG Electronics Inc. and LG Electronics USA Inc.’s request for interlocutory review, ruling that it was untimely. The court dismissed the appeal for want of jurisdiction because LG’s notice was not filed within the statutorily prescribed 30-day period.

The interlocutory appeal stemmed from a 2014 infringement lawsuit filed by Mondis Technology Ltd. over a patent “directed generally to a display unit configured to receive video signals from an external video source.” Prior to trial, the District of New Jersey court joined Hitachi Maxell Ltd. and Maxell Ltd. as plaintiffs to address a standing challenge brought by LG. At trial, the jury determined that the accused LG televisions infringed two claims of the asserted patent, that the claims were not invalid, and that LG’s infringement was willful, and awarded the plaintiffs $45 million in damages.

LG filed several post-trial motions for judgment as a matter of law contesting the validity, wilfulness, and damages findings. On Sept. 24, 2019, the district court denied LG’s motions regarding its first three challenges but ordered further briefing on damages. On Apr. 22, 2020, the court ruled on damages.

On May 8, 2020 LG filed notice of interlocutory appeal questioning the district court’s infringement, invalidity, and willfulness findings, all of which were decided in the September 2019 order, as well as the court’s earlier joinder of Hitachi. The plaintiffs moved to dismiss the interlocutory appeal as untimely, asserting that LG needed to file its notice of appeal within 30 days of the September 2019 order.

The panel sided with the plaintiffs in finding the court’s September order marked the beginning of the 30-day period to file an interlocutory appeal. “Because that is the date that all liability issues became final, such that the judgment on liability became ripe for an appeal,” the opinion said.

The court then addressed the parties’ dispute over the effect of Rule 4 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure (FRAP) as it interacts with two Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP). According to the opinion, FRAP 4(a)(4) instructs that, “if a party timely files any of several enumerated motions, including post-trial motions for judgment under FRCP 50(b) or for a new trial under FRCP 59, ‘the time to file an appeal runs for all parties from the entry of the order disposing of the last such remaining motion.’”

The panel explained that because the FRAP rule does not toll the interlocutory appeal timeframe while other motions unrelated to the interlocutory appeal pend, “the damages motions that remained outstanding after the September Order did not toll the time frame for LG to file its notice of appeal on the liability portion of this case.” In its conclusion, the panel noted that LG will eventually have the ability to challenge the liability determination in a regular appeal.

Mondis and Hitachi are represented by Dechert LLP, and the LG defendants by Fish & Richardson PC.

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