Wright's Well Control Services, LLC v. Oceaneering International, Inc. et al
ORDER AND REASONS denying 327 Motion for Reconsideration. Signed by Judge Sarah S. Vance on 2/9/2018. (cg)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
WRIGHT’S WELL CONTROL
SECTION “R” (3)
ORDER AND REASONS
reconsideration of the Court’s order granting summary judgment of noninfringement of U.S. Patent No. 9,435,185.1 For the following reasons, the
Court denies the motion.
The facts and allegations that follow are limited to what is relevant to
the two motions before the Court.2 Plaintiff Wright’s Well Control Services,
(“Oceaneering”) both provide hydrate remediation services for the oil and
R. Doc. 327.
A more in-depth discussion of the facts underlying this dispute can be
found in the Court’s February 5, 2018 Order. See generally R. Doc. 350.
gas industry. This dispute concerns a technological system that WWCS
developed for removing hydrates from subsea, deepwater pipelines.3
On December 24, 2010, David Wright and Jeffery Dufrene filed two
patent applications, each of which was directed to specific aspects of WWCS’s
remediation system.4 U.S. Patent Application No. 12/978,486, now issued
as U.S. Patent No. 8,413,725 (’725 Patent), describes and claims the subsea
separator used in WWCS’s remediation system.5
12/978,448, now issued as U.S. Patent No. 9,435,185 (’185 Patent), describes
aspects of the entire remediation system, focusing specifically on the
system’s use of a subsea hydraulic positive displacement pump.6 The ’185
Patent issued on September 6, 2016. 7
The ’185 Patent contains thirteen claims, three independent and 10
dependent. 8 Claim 1, the main independent claim, is a method of recovering
a pipeline fluid from a source located in a subsea environment by connecting
According to WWCS, a hydrate is an ice-like solid that forms when
water becomes mixed with oil and/or gas at high pressure and low
temperature. R. Doc. 147 at 3. “Hydrate plugs” can cause a pipeline to
become blocked, resulting in a loss of production. Id. at 3-4.
Id. at 13 ¶ 44.
Id. According to WWCS, Wright and Dufrene assigned all rights and
interests in both the ’725 and the ’185 Patents to WWCS, and WWCS is the
owner of both Patents. Id. ¶ 45.
See R. Doc. 147-20 at 2.
Id. at 22-23.
a fluid-powered motor and a pump to the source of the fluid. 9 Claims 4 and
9, the other two independent claims, are a method for hydrate remediation
and fluid recovery from a subsea location, and a method for acting on or
removing a blockage from a pipeline fluid in a subsea environment,
respectively.10 In its operative fourth amended complaint, WWCS alleges
that Oceaneering’s Flowline Remediation System infringes on Claims 4 and
9 of the ’185 Patent. 11 Specifically, WWCS alleges that “Oceaneering has
offered to use its Flowline Remediation System, performing each and every
step of at least Claims 4 and 9, on a hydrate remediation job for at least W &
T Offshore since September 6, 2016.”12
Oceaneering then moved for summary judgment of non-infringement
of the ’185 Patent. 13
Oceaneering argued that there was no evidence
Oceaneering either made, used, offered to sell, or sold its Flowline
Remediation System since the ’185 Patent issued on September 6, 2016. 14
See 35 U.S.C. § 271(a) (“Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever
without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention,
Id. at 22.
Id. at 22-23.
R. Doc. 147 at 30 ¶ 86.
Id. at 37 ¶ 94.
R. Doc. 172.
R. Doc. 210-1 at 8-9.
within the United States . . . any patented invention during the term of the
patent therefor, infringes the patent.”).
In response, WWCS disputed
whether Oceaneering has offered to sell its Flowline Remediation System.15
WWCS pointed to the deposition of Oceaneering employee Chris Dyer, who
testified that Oceaneering had included the use of its Flowline Remediation
Systems in project bids since September 2016. 16 In its reply, Oceaneering
argued that an offer to sell the Flowline Remediation System cannot give rise
to patent infringement because method claims, like Claims 4 and 9 of the
’185 Patent, can be infringed only by actual use.17
The Court granted
Oceaneering’s motion because there was no evidence of Oceaneering’s use of
the methods described in the ’185 Patent since the patent issued on
September 6, 2016.18
Shortly after the Court granted summary judgment of noninfringement, Oceaneering notified the Court that Oceaneering had in fact
used the FRS around September 21, 2017. 19 At a status conference on
October 4, WWCS represented that it would not seek to reintroduce the ’185
Patent infringement claim. WWCS indicated that it would await the results
R. Doc. 229 at 1; R. Doc. 229-1 at 4.
R. Doc. 229 at 1.
R. Doc. 233 at 4-5.
R. Doc. 260.
R. Doc. 327-3.
of an inter partes review of the ’185 Patent, which Oceaneering initiated on
September 21, 2017. 20 WWCS now moves for reconsideration of the Court’s
summary judgment order. 21
A district court has considerable discretion to grant or deny a motion
under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e). See Edward H. Bohlin Co. v.
Banning Co., 6 F.3d 350, 355 (5th Cir. 1993). But “reconsideration of a
previous order is an extraordinary remedy which should be used sparingly.”
Fields v. Pool Offshore, Inc., 1998 WL 43217, at *2 (E.D. La. Feb. 3, 1998);
see also Bardwell v. George G. Sharp, Inc., 1995 WL 517120, at *1 (E.D. La.
Aug. 30, 1995). The Court must “strike the proper balance between two
competing imperatives: (1) finality, and (2) the need to render just decisions
on the basis of all the facts.” Edward H. Bohlin Co., 6 F.3d at 355. A moving
party must satisfy at least one of the following criteria to prevail on a Rule
59(e) motion: (1) the motion is necessary to correct a manifest error of fact
or law; (2) the movant presents newly discovered or previously unavailable
evidence; (3) the motion is necessary in order to prevent manifest injustice;
R. Doc. 338 at 5. Inter partes review is a proceeding before the PTO to
determine a patent’s validity. See U.S.C. § 311.
R. Doc. 327.
and (4) the motion is justified by an intervening change in the controlling
law. See Fid. & Deposit Co. of Md. v. Omni Bank, 1999 WL 970526, at *3
(E.D. La. Oct. 21, 1999); Fields, 1998 WL 43217, at *2; see also Compass
Tech., Inc. v. Tseng Labs., Inc., 71 F.3d 1125, 1130 (3d Cir. 1995) (“Rule 59
and Rule 60(b)(2) share the same standard for granting relief on the basis of
newly discovered evidence.”). “A motion to reconsider based on an alleged
discovery of new evidence should be granted only if (1) the facts discovered
are of such a nature that they would probably change the outcome; (2) the
facts alleged are actually newly discovered and could not have been
discovered earlier by proper diligence; and (3) the facts are not merely
cumulative or impeaching.” Ferraro v. Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co., 796 F.3d
529, 534 (5th Cir. 2015) (quoting Johnson v. Diversicare Afton Oaks, LLC,
597 F.3d 673, 677 (5th Cir. 2010)).
WWCS presents newly discovered and previously unavailable evidence
that Oceaneering has used its FRS since the ’185 Patent issued on September
6, 2016. See Fid. & Deposit Co. of Md., 1999 WL 970526, at *3. Specifically,
WWCS points to documents that detail the use of Oceaneering’s FRS on a
hydrate remediation project for Exxon in October 2017. 22
Nonetheless, the Court declines to reconsider its earlier order granting
summary judgment of non-infringement because the Court based its
decision on then-existing facts. At the time the Court issued its order on
August 28, there was no evidence that Oceaneering had used its FRS since
the issuance of the ’185 Patent. The Court therefore held that WWCS’s
infringement claim had not yet accrued, and dismissed it. The new evidence
cited by WWCS does not change the fact that its infringement claim had not
accrued by August 28. Instead, the evidence reveals that WWCS’s claim has
since accrued. Based on this new evidence, WWCS may file a new lawsuit
asserting infringement of the ’185 Patent, or seek leave to amend its
complaint in this case.
Thus, reconsideration of the Court’s summary
judgment order is not necessary to ensure that the Court “render just
decisions on the basis of all the facts.” Edward H. Bohlin Co., 6 F.3d at 355.
R. Doc. 327-4.
For the foregoing reasons, the Court DENIES plaintiff’s motion to
reconsider its August 28, 2017 order.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this _____ day of February, 2018.
SARAH S. VANCE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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