On December 1, 2022, the Northern District of Georgia revised both its Local Rules and Local Patent Rules. The revised Local Rules are available on the Northern District of Georgia’s website.
Here are the highlights:
Local Rule 3.3—Certificate of Interested Persons and Corporate Disclosure Statement. Moving forward, litigants must use the new form prescribed by LR 3.3. The new rule now requires both parties and third-parties that may seek to intervene in the litigation to file a certificate with the court at the time of their first appearance. For any action based on diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), the new rule also requires the certificate to state the citizenship of every individual or entity whose citizenship is attributed to the party or proposed intervenor on whose behalf the certificate is filed. In addition, attorneys for each party and proposed intervenor have an ongoing duty to notify the court of any changes to information reported in their certificate if an event occurs that could affect the court’s jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). The new rule is substantially similar to the newly amended Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 7.1, which added a disclosure requirement for citizenship information in diversity cases.
The intent behind Fed. R. Civ. P. 7.1, the Federal Rule that LR 3.3 is modeled after, was intended to alert judges of potential financial interests they may have in a corporate party and to facilitate a judge’s decision on whether recusal was necessary. See Ha v. Deutsche bank New Jersey Services, Inc., 2005 WL 589408, *1, *2 (S.D. N.Y. Mar. 11, 2005). Rule 7.1’s disclosure requirement was not intended to have an effect on jurisdiction or removal. But federal courts tend to use these certificates to verify diversity jurisdiction in a matter. See, e.g., Gosnell v. Interstate Dist. Co., 2009 WL 1346051, *1, *1 (E.D. Tenn. May 11, 2009); Turnage v. Chase Home Finance, LLC, 2010 WL 11530718, *1, *3 (E.D. Tex. July 2, 2010).
The addition to Rule 7.1 formalizes the additional function of determining party and intervenor citizenship to verify diversity jurisdiction. See Memorandum from Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure to Scott S. Harris, Clerk, Supreme Court of the United States (Oct. 18, 2021). This rule may incentivize parties and potential intervenors to maintain updated records of citizenship for every individual or entity whose citizenship is attributed to it for purposes of establishing diversity jurisdiction and to avoid removal and remand back to state court.
Local Patent Rule 6.1(a)—Claim Construction Proceeding. Moving forward, parties must also include the “qualifications of a person of ordinary skill in the art at the time of the invention(s) of the patent(s)-in-suit” with their exchanged list of claim terms and phrases that the parties contend should be construed by the Court.
The prior version of the Local Patent Rule was silent as when the parties were required to disclose the qualifications of a person of ordinary skill the art. Despite this silence, parties would typically disclose the qualifications of a person of skill in the art in their opening claim construction briefs. This new rule will now require the parties to disclosure the qualifications of a person of skill in the art approximately five months earlier—during the exchange of list of terms and phrases the parties content require construction.