Menards on IP Litigation: Signify Continues to Pile On

Henrik Villumsen sent us the latest filing regarding the IP dispute between Menards and Signify and you can read the document at the end of this article.

In a contentious legal showdown unfolding in the Western District of Wisconsin, Signify North America Corporation and Signify Holding B.V. are embroiled in a patent infringement dispute with Menards Inc., alongside a host of third-party defendants. The crux of the case centers on allegations by Signify that Menards and various third-party companies have been infringing upon its patents. However, a critical aspect of this case is Signify’s ongoing strategy of amending its infringement contentions—a tactic now employed five times over the course of the litigation, compounding the complexity and scale of the dispute.

Overview of the Dispute

Signify has accused Menards and several associated companies of selling products that violate its patent rights. Over the course of the legal proceedings, Signify has expanded its list of accused products multiple times through amendments to its infringement contentions. Each amendment introduces new products into the lawsuit, thereby broadening the scope of the case. The latest filing, termed the “Second Amended Infringement Contentions,” is actually the fifth time Signify has altered its list, now alleging that over 170 products infringe on its patents.

The Legal Sticking Point: Amendment of Infringement Contentions

The core legal issue at hand is Signify’s request to further amend its infringement contentions. Menards opposes this latest amendment, arguing that it is unfairly timed and burdensome. The defendant’s response highlights a strategic pattern by Signify:

“Signify takes a piecemeal approach to identifying the accused products in this case, with this latest attempt to add new products being the fifth time they have sought to do so since this dispute first began.” (Document #258, Page 3)

Arguments Against Continual Amendments

Menard’s primary grievance is that Signify is using publicly available information to justify its amendments, information that has been accessible long before the suggested amendments. They claim this strategy severely disadvantages the defense, which must continuously adapt to new accusations:

“Allowing Signify to amend its infringement contentions at this late stage, adding new accused products and additional infringement arguments, will severely prejudice the Defendants.” (Document #258, Page 2)

Menards underscores the tactical disadvantage imposed by Signify’s amendments, which force the defense to repeatedly recalibrate its strategy and reallocate resources to address new allegations.

Legal Precedents and Court’s Discretion

Menards invokes past legal precedents wherein courts have been hesitant to permit such amendments, particularly as cases advance toward critical deadlines. They point out a specific instance reflecting the court’s attitude towards such amendments:

“In patent infringement cases, the court grows increasingly reluctant to allow amendments to infringement contentions as other case deadlines approach.” (Douglas Dynamics, LLC v. Meyer Prods. LLC, 2017)

Potential Prejudice to the Defense

The defense argues that the continual amendments not only disrupt their preparation but also hint at strategic maneuvering by Signify to keep the defendants off-balance. This, they claim, is not just a procedural headache but a substantive disadvantage that could affect the outcome of the case.

Your humble editor thinks the court should not permit yet another amendment, as it may set a precedent for future cases, potentially encouraging similar legal tactics by other patent holders. Adding products at the last hour and making Menards continue to update and change their legal strategy seems like a general rule of fair play is being ignored.

Read the Menards response below: