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AVM Technologies LLC v. Intel Corp.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

April 27, 2017

AVM TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, Plaintiff;
v.
INTEL CORPORATION, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

         Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on Intel's Utility Defense and to Strike Unreliable Expert Testimony on the Question of Utility (D.I. 407) and related briefing (D.I. 408, 502, 528). The Court heard oral argument on April 12, 2017. For the reasons that follow, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT Plaintiffs Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and to Strike Unreliable Expert Testimony on the Question of Utility (D.I. 407) is DENIED.

         A. Motion to Strike Expert Testimony

         "[T]he district court acts as a gatekeeper" to ensure that expert testimony is reliable and helpful. Schneider v. Fried, 320 F.3d 396, 404 (3rd Cir. 2003). "The primary locus of this obligation is [Federal Rule of Evidence] 702." Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharma., Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 589(1993). It reads:

A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise if:
(a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue;
(b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data;
(c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and
(d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.

Fed. R. Evid. 702.

         Rule 702, as amended in 2000, codified the Supreme Court's holding in Daubert. Daubert imposes a "trilogy" of requirements: (1) qualification, (2) reliability, and (3) fit. Schneider, 320 F.3d at 404. My determination that proffered testimony complies with these prerequisites is governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 104(a). Daubert, 509 U.S. at 592. As such, I must find Daubert's trilogy of requirements is met by a preponderance of the evidence. In re Paoli R.R. Yard PCB Litig., 35 F.3d 717, 744 (3rd Cir. 1994).

         On the one hand, this showing requires the party proffering expert testimony do more than make & prima facie case of reliability. Id. at 743. On the other hand, the "evidentiary requirement of reliability is lower than the merits standard of correctness." Id. The proffering party does not "have to prove their case twice-they do not have to demonstrate to the judge by a preponderance of the evidence that the assessments of their experts are correct, they only have to demonstrate by a preponderance of evidence that their opinions are reliable." Id. at 744.

         Plaintiffs objections to Dr. Ivey's testimony fall within the reliability prong of the Daubert trilogy. Under this prong, "an expert's testimony is admissible so long as the process or technique the expert used in formulating the opinion is reliable." Paoli, 35 F.3d at 742. Reliability does not require certainty, Daubert, 509 U.S. at 590, but does require "validity, " Paoli, 35 F.3d at 742. The Third Circuit has warned, however, that "the reliability requirement must not be used as a tool by which the court excludes all questionably reliable evidence." Id. at 744. An expert's opinion must be founded on good grounds, not perfect ones. Id. lean conclude there are good grounds for the opinion even if I "think[] there are better grounds for some alternative conclusion" or that the expert's methodology "has some flaws such that if they had been corrected, the scientist would have reached a different result." Id. The Third Circuit has directed that a "judge frequently should find an expert's methodology helpful even when the judge thinks that the expert's technique has flaws sufficient to render the conclusions inaccurate." Id. at 744-45.

         Plaintiff makes two arguments for striking Dr. Ivey's testimony related to Defendant's utility defense. First, Plaintiff complains that Dr. Ivey "did not perform any analytical analysis showing the benefits or costs in any particular circuit. (D.I. 408 at 11). Second, Plaintiff characterizes Dr. Ivey's conclusion that a design engineer would not practice the invention because the disadvantages outweigh the benefits as "speculation] without support." (Id.). In response to the first point, Defendant points to evidence in the record showing that Dr. Ivey relied on studies performed by Defendant and simulations performed by both Plaintiffs infringement expert and Defendant's noninfringement expert. (D.I. 501 at 14). Defendant responds to the second argument by pointing to Dr. Ivey's statements that his opinions were based on his many years of experience in the industry and his knowledge of circuit design principles. (Id.).

         I agree with Defendant that Plaintiff has not shown that Dr. Ivey's opinions are unreliable. As to Plaintiffs first argument, there is no reason an expert cannot rely on analysis performed by other experts. This, as Defendant pointed out (a point to which Plaintiff failed to respond), is precisely what Dr. Ivey did. Furthermore, Plaintiff is not challenging Dr. Ivey's qualifications. Dr. Ivey, it seems to me, is qualified to opine on basic circuit design and whether the invention claimed in the '547 patent provides a benefit. I would hardly characterize the opinion of an expert as "speculation without support" simply because that opinion is based on decades of experience in the field. If Plaintiff believes Dr. Ivey's testimony is based on erroneous facts or a flawed analysis, Plaintiff is free to ...


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