Some patent cases conclude the trial phase of the case not with a trial before a jury, but with a post-trial bench trial on nonjury issues such as laches, inequitable conduct, or other equitable issues. This opinion reflects the court’s findings on the issue of equitable estoppel in a patent case, which was tried to the court following the jury trial.
In the old days, before people had to figure out how Daubert is pronounced (the family in the litigation pronounces it “Dobbert”, so you can be all French and everything, but you’d be all wrong too – and I say that as a French major), experts simply said what they said, and if the expert’s opinions were that poor, the jury not only disregarded them after the expert had been destroyed on cross, but punished the rest of your case too for presuming to waste their time with such awful testimony. Of course if your expert presenting the termite-ridden opinions was better than the lawyer cross examining them, things got interesting, but we’re not going to talk about George Greene right now.
One of the interesting things about damages testimony, specifically in patent cases, is that since the Federal Circuit has ruled certain economic calculations out as a matter of law for various reasons, the inquiry when determining whether a damages expert can testify as to an opinion at trial is not always simply that the flaws in the opinions go to the weight (with the experienced trial judge knowing that the system tends to be self-correcting because flawed opinions tend to kick harder than they shoot) but sometimes whether the opinion itself is legally impermissible under controlling caselaw.
The attached is a recent opinion out of Tyler where some of these allegations were levelled against a couple of experts, and the Court’s analysis provided hopefully some useful discussion of when flaws in the expert’s opinion fall on weight side of the scale, as opposed to admissibility. The point above – that bad opinions don’t do well at trial – may have been the lesson from this case as well.
The most recent batch of bimonthly patent case scheduling conferences was held earlier this week in Marshall, and as usual I have a brief rundown of the results.
As is only appropriate during a holiday week, last week a Tyler jury in Judge Schroeder’s court returned a verdict in Plaintiff Tinnus Enterprises’ patent infringement suit against multiple entities which were alleged to have infringed its patents on “Battle Balloons.”
So who got wet?
Yesterday a Tyler jury in Judge Robert W. Schroeder III’s court returned a verdict in Network1 v. HP finding that the asserted claims were not infringed, and were invalid. I don’t have a copy of the verdict yet, but will add it when I get it.
It’s been a busy few weeks finalizing some other projects, including tests, papers, seminar presentations and the like (and I finally finished that anime-ish P-40 for Parker with accurate paint colors), but I’m finally able to turn more of my attention to some of the very interesting activity in the district in the last few weeks. And speaking of interest, there are few cases that have generated more than VirnetX v. Apple, which just had its most recent trial’s postverdict motions come out. Most legal news is interested in the bottom line – that the verdict amount of $302 million resulted in a $439 million judgment, but for practitioners the analysis of how it got there is of great interest – I am not the only one out there that enjoys a good JMOL. So I wanted to work through the motions, but only after a short … well, that’s a lie, it’s not going to be short – procedural history.
One of the points I am making in the papers I am writing and panels I am speaking on this fall re: TC Heartland is that the issue of whether venue is improper as a result of Heartland/Cray is sometimes rendered moot by the resolution of a followup 1404 motion seeking transfer. We saw another example of this in the EDTX just this week.
Plaintiff and the defendant in this pending Delaware patent case Encoditech v. Virgin Pulse, 1:17cv1283 RGA jointly sought transfer to the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division. In the motion the parties state:
“The Parties believe and agree that the Eastern District of Texas is a more convenient forum for many recognized reasons, including: (1) Plaintiff is incorporated and located in the Eastern District of Texas, (2) Defendant’s witnesses for the purposes of this matter are closer to Texas than Delaware, and (3) the transferee district is currently less congested than this District.”
A recurring issue in patent cases is when a technical expert’s opinion is consistent with the Court’s claims construction, and simply opines whether infringement exists under the construction, and when it is not. A recent case provided three useful examples where an expert did – but in some cases did not – proffer opinions that were consistent with the claim constructions the jury would have to consider, or was otherwise permissible.
It’s sad around the Hub these days, and I’m sure it’s not because our oldest Grayson has officially left home to start engineering school at Baylor, but because Judge Love has recommended granting the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on the defendants’ claims of inequitable conduct and unclean hands in this case, leaving the defendant standing beside their truck in the parking garage trying not to completely lose it as they try to go on as if things will ever be the same again.
Metaphorically speaking, of course.