Law360 reported that United States District Judge Beth Freeman through a video conference set an October 19 date to start the trial of Israeli software maker Finjan against California technology giant Cisco Systems Inc for cybersecurity patent infringement. Originally set for June 15, the trial was pushed back due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Judge Freeman told counsel, "I am really disappointed that we can not move this along because I know you are ready. But we have an enormous backlog of criminal cases and they take priority no matter what."
The effects of the pandemic have reached into the judicial system slowing an already backlogged judicial system. The delay is especially long for cases warranting a jury because of the preventative measures needed for social distancing. In April, Judge Freeman warned counsel to prepare for the June 15 trial. At the time, said was "fairly confident" Finjan's patent infringement suit could go before a jury in June and July, even with social distancing at the place.
However, the Northern District of California's higher judge announced an order for postponing all new civil jury trials through September 30 attributing the judicial system interruption to COVID-19. Judge Freeman explained that the district courts cannot hold more than one jury trial in a courthouse at the same time, and so only two trial dates in October and January would available to both the parties. She added, "I do not have a crystal ball," and proposed that both the parties agree to an October trial date because a January trial could be further delayed with the usual winter flu season and a likely second wave of the coronavirus.
Judge Freeman also cautioned plaintiff and defense attorneys that because of COVID-19 jurors' reactions to being called in would widely vary. The waters of this coronavirus pandemic are vastly uncharted. She said, "there's virtually no experience across the country now."