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Western Holdings, LLC v. Metabolic Research, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

March 25, 2015

METABOLIC RESEARCH, INC. et al., Defendants.


ROBERT C. JONES, District Judge.

This case arises out of the alleged infringement of a patent for using nicotine in combination with exercise to increase muscle mass in mammals. Pending before the Court are a Motion for Summary Judgment (ECF No. 78) and a Motion to Exclude Evidence of Damages (ECF No. 73). For the reasons given herein, the Court grants the motion for summary judgment in part and denies it in part and denies the motion to exclude evidence of damages.


Plaintiff Western Holdings, LLC sued Defendants Metabolic Research, Inc. ("MRI") and David P. Summers in this Court for infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7, 074, 812 (the "Patent"), entitled "Development of Muscle Mass. in a Mammal." Plaintiff, the exclusive licensee of the Patent, sued Defendants based on their allegedly infringing product, Stemulite. MRI defaulted. The Court issued a Markman order, agreeing with Plaintiff that the sole disputed term in Claim 1 of the Patent, "amount sufficient, " was in no need of further construction beyond its ordinary meaning. Summers has now moved for summary judgment and to exclude evidence of damages.


A court must grant summary judgment when "the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Material facts are those which may affect the outcome of the case. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A dispute as to a material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the nonmoving party. See id. A principal purpose of summary judgment is "to isolate and dispose of factually unsupported claims." Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323-24 (1986). In determining summary judgment, a court uses a burden-shifting scheme:

When the party moving for summary judgment would bear the burden of proof at trial, it must come forward with evidence which would entitle it to a directed verdict if the evidence went uncontroverted at trial. In such a case, the moving party has the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of fact on each issue material to its case.

C.A.R. Transp. Brokerage Co. v. Darden Rests., Inc., 213 F.3d 474, 480 (9th Cir. 2000) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted). In contrast, when the nonmoving party bears the burden of proving the claim or defense, the moving party can meet its burden in two ways: (1) by presenting evidence to negate an essential element of the nonmoving party's case; or (2) by demonstrating that the nonmoving party failed to make a showing sufficient to establish an element essential to that party's case on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. See Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 323-24. If the moving party fails to meet its initial burden, summary judgment must be denied and the court need not consider the nonmoving party's evidence. See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144 (1970).

If the moving party meets its initial burden, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to establish a genuine issue of material fact. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). To establish the existence of a factual dispute, the opposing party need not establish a material issue of fact conclusively in its favor. It is sufficient that "the claimed factual dispute be shown to require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing versions of the truth at trial." T.W. Elec. Serv., Inc. v. P. Elec. Contractors Ass'n, 809 F.2d 626, 631 (9th Cir. 1987). In other words, the nonmoving party cannot avoid summary judgment by relying solely on conclusory allegations unsupported by facts. See Taylor v. List, 880 F.2d 1040, 1045 (9th Cir. 1989). Instead, the opposition must go beyond the assertions and allegations of the pleadings and set forth specific facts by producing competent evidence that shows a genuine issue for trial. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 324.

At the summary judgment stage, a court's function is not to weigh the evidence and determine the truth, but to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249. The evidence of the nonmovant is "to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Id. at 255. But if the evidence of the nonmoving party is merely colorable or is not significantly probative, summary judgment may be granted. See id. at 249-50.


A. Summary Judgment

Summers notes that the Patent is a method patent and argues that because Plaintiff has no evidence that any individual infringed the Patent, it cannot prove that Summers is liable for either direct infringement, contributory infringement, or inducing infringement. Summers also argues that the suit is barred by the statute of limitations and laches. The Court will address the affirmative defenses first.

1. Statute of Limitations

Summers argues that 35 U.S.C. ยง 286 bars the action because the alleged infringement occurred more than six years prior to the filing of the complaint, i.e., before August 15, 2007. Summers argues that because he licensed the technology to MRI in January 2007, and because the licensing of the technology is the sole act of infringement ...

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