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Judge Sweet Allows a Plaintiff to Amend Its Complaint More Than 2 Years After It Was Originally Filed

On October 26, 2017, District Judge Robert W. Sweet (S.D.N.Y.) granted plaintiff Olaf Soot Design, LLC (“OSD”) leave to amend its June 25, 2015 Complaint against Daktronics, Inc. and Daktronics Hoist, Inc. (collectively, “Daktronics”).

OSD’s original Complaint alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,520,485, directed generally to a device for raising and lowering theatre scenery.  Two years and several months later, OSD moved to amend its Complaint to add a claim for willful infringement.  By this stage, the Court had ruled on claim construction and summary judgment.  To succeed, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 16, OSD needed to demonstrate “good cause” for amending its Complaint.

OSD explained that it only recently acquired the factual information needed to support a claim for willful infringement.  OSD alleged that Daktronics provided delayed and misleading discovery disclosures that prevented it from learning of the underlying facts sooner.  On the other hand, Daktronics claimed that documents submitted to OSD in March and June 2016 provided OSD with the means and motivation to “investigat[e] . . .information publically available … or ask[] questions . . .  to Defendants’ 30(b)(6) witness.” 

The court acknowledged that Daktronics had provided that information and that a “litigator could have begun investigating” the issue in 2016.   However, Judge Sweet noted that Defendants’ discovery responses were misleading and did hinder OSD’s ability to find facts sufficient to support a claim of willful infringement.  Also, the court found that amending the Complaint would not prejudice Daktronics.  Although at a relatively late stage in the litigation, the court found that the interest in having related claims tried together superseded any prejudice that potentially existed for Daktronics.

Case: Olaf Soot Design, LLC v. Daktronics, Inc., No. 15 Civ. 5024 (RWS), Dkt. No. 176 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 26, 2017)