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TQ Delta LLC v. Adtran Inc.

United States District Court, D. Delaware

October 31, 2019

TQ DELTA, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
ADTRAN, INC., Defendant. ADTRAN, INC., Plaintiff and Counterclaim Defendant,
v.
TQ DELTA, LLC, Defendant and Counterclaim Plaintiff.

          MEMORANDUM ORDER

         Currently before me are seven motions submitted by TQ Delta and ADTRAN regarding Family 10. This order will address ADTRAN's Motion to Exclude the Expert Testimony of Dr. Arthur Brody (D.I. 718).[1] I have reviewed the parties' briefing and related papers. (D.I. 719, 769, 786). After full consideration of the briefing, the motion is resolved as follows.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff TQ Delta filed this lawsuit against Defendant ADTRAN on July 17, 2014, asserting infringement of one or more patents from ten patent families. (D.I. 1). I have divided the case into separate trials based on families of patents. (D.I. 369). ADTRAN moves under Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 595 (1993) to exclude the infringement and validity opinions of Dr. Brody for Family 10 in their entirety. (D.I. 718).

         Dr. Brody's infringement opinions are based on two alternative theories: (1) that the Accused Products infringe asserted claims 5 and 14 of the '660 patent based on their compliance with the VDSL2 standard and on Dr. Almeroth's source code analysis for the BCM65300 chipset; and (2) that the Accused Products infringe asserted claim 5 of the '660 patent based on their compliance with VDSL2 and G.inp Amendment 2 and on Dr. Cooklev's testing results. Dr. Brody also offered a rebuttal to ADTRAN's expert Dr. Zimmerman regarding the invalidity of the '660 patent based on certain combinations of prior art.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Evidence 702 sets out the requirements for expert witness testimony and states:

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. The Third Circuit has explained:

Rule 702 embodies a trilogy of restrictions on expert testimony: qualification, reliability and fit. Qualification refers to the requirement that the witness possess specialized expertise. We have interpreted this requirement liberally, holding that a broad range of knowledge, skills, and training qualify an expert. Secondly, the testimony must be reliable; it must be based on the methods and procedures of science' rather than on 'subjective belief or unsupported speculation; the expert must have good grounds for his or her belief. In sum, Daubert holds that an inquiry into the reliability of scientific evidence under Rule 702 requires a determination as to its scientific validity. Finally, Rule 702 requires that the expert testimony must fit the issues in the case. In other words, the expert's testimony must be relevant for the purposes of the case and must assist the trier of fact. The Supreme Court explained in Daubert that Rule 702's helpfulness standard requires a valid scientific connection to the pertinent inquiry as a precondition to admissibility.
By means of a so-called "Daubert hearing," the district court acts as a gatekeeper, preventing opinion testimony that does not meet the requirements of qualification, reliability and fit from reaching the jury. See Daubert ("Faced with a proffer of expert scientific testimony, then, the trial judge must determine at the outset, pursuant to Rule 104(a) of the Federal Rules of Evidence whether the expert is proposing to testify to (1) scientific knowledge that (2) will assist the trier of fact to understand or determine a fact in issue.").

Schneider ex rel. Estate of Schneider v. Fried, 320 F.3d 396, 404-05 (3d. Cir. 2003) (cleaned up).

         Qualification refers to the requirement that the witness possess specialized expertise. "We have interpreted this requirement liberally, holding that a broad range of knowledge, skills, and training qualify an expert." TQ Delta, LLC v. 2Wire, Inc. 373 F.Supp.3d 509, 516 (D. Del. 2019) (citing Schneider, 320 F.3d at 404-05, see also Calhoun v. Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A., 350 F.3d 316, 321 (3d Cir. 2003). "Rule 702's liberal policy of admissibility extends to the substantive as well as formal qualifications of experts." In re Paoli R.R. Yard PCB Litig., 35 F.3d 717, 741 (3d Cir. 1994). The Third Circuit has "eschewed imposing overly rigorous requirements of expertise and ha[s] been satisfied with more generalized qualifications." Id.

         An expert is qualified to provide testimony if he/she "posses[es] at least ordinary skill in the pertinent art." Sonos, Inc. v. D & M Holdings Inc., 297 F.Supp.3d 501, 508 (D. Del 2017). An expert who lacks the literal qualifications of one ordinarily skilled in the art, but who otherwise has sufficient relevant technical experience that will assist the trier of fact to understand the evidence, may still be qualified to testify in the pertinent art. See, e.g., Tesco Corp. v. Weatherford Intern. Inc., 750 F.Supp.2d 780, 795 (S.D. Texas 2010) ("Even if he does not have specific experience studying or working with pipe handling devices, his three degrees in engineering and his experience in oil fields sufficiently qualify Dr. Wooley as an expert on the subject matter of this case. Rule 702 does not require [ ] extreme specificity of expertise...."); Int'l Gamco, Inc. v. Multimedia Games Inc., 732 F.Supp.2d 1082, 1088 (S.D. Cal. 2010) ("While Ms. Spielman may lack the context in which these patents and technologies at issue are designed and implemented... the main component of the [ ] patent and its technologies at issue is clearly the distributed computing system," with which the expert did have experience.).

         "[I]t is not necessary that the expert have expertise in the precise technology that is the subject of the patent or patents in suit." Sonos, 297 F.Supp.3d at 510; see also TQ Delta, 373 F.Supp.3d at 527-28 (denying defendant's motion to exclude patentee's technical expert, the court stated, "Defendant attempts to define the pertinent art too narrowly. I determine that [the expert] has sufficient experience with communications systems, including DSL, to offer specialized testimony that would be helpful to the jury."). ...


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