Posted On: April 10, 2013 by Gregory J. Brodzik

Judge Thynge Considers Daubert and Summary Judgment Motions

In Masimo Corporation v. Philips Electronics North American Corporation, et al., C.A. Nos. 09-080-LPS-MPT & 11-742-LPS-MPT (Cons.) (D. Del. Apr. 2, 2013), Magistrate Judge Mary Pat Thynge issued a report and recommendation regarding Daubert and summary judgment motions from both parties. The case involves a number of patents related to “pulse oximetry,” which “allows for non-invasive measurement of the oxygen levels in a medical patient’s hemoglobin.” Id. at 1. At the time of the Court’s opinion, seven patents were at issue from the original action filed, plus two patents from a second action filed by plaintiff; six were plaintiff’s patents, and three were defendants’ for which they had counterclaimed infringement. Id. at 4-5.

The motions for summary judgment for which the Court issued recommendations related to infringement, noninfringement, invalidity, and laches. Id. at 6 & n. 22 (noting that the other motions before the Court would be addressed in another opinion). The Court denied the majority of these motions, finding that genuine issues of material fact remained. See, e.g., id. at 17, 23, 58-60, 75, 77, 85, 87, 115-16, 140, 146-47. As to defendant’s motion for summary judgment based on laches with respect to three patents, defendants alleged that a series of negotiations with third parties and with defendants, and lawsuits with third parties, all relating to plaintiff’s technology, put plaintiff on notice as to potential infringement more than six years preceding the filing of the lawsuit with respect to two out of the three patents. See id. at 178-81. While the Court agreed that defendants had established the necessary six-year presumption of laches for these two patents, id. at 189-91, it concluded that plaintiff had presented evidence that rebutted the presumption. First, litigation with another entity over one of the three patents “provid[ed] justification for [plaintiff] not pursuing [defendant] on that patent” while that action was pending. Id. at 193. Second, there was an issue of material fact as to whether negotiations related to the potential infringement of defendants’ technology would have resolved the infringement issues. Id. at 195. In response, defendants argued that they had suffered economic prejudice as a result of plaintiff’s delay in filing because they had expanded their use of the potentially infringing products, but plaintiffs demonstrated “through statements from [defendants’] executives that an earlier lawsuit would not have affected [defendants’] business plans.” Accordingly, issues of material fact were raised “as to whether a nexus exists between [defendants’] economic change an [plaintiff’s] delay. Id. at 198. The Court therefore denied defendants’ motion, finding it unnecessary to address plaintiff’s unclean hands argument. Id.

The Court granted the following motions for summary judgment:

-Defendants’ motion for summary judgment of invalidity, based on the written description requirement, as to two claims of U.S. Patent No. 6,263,222. The Court concluded that plaintiff’s patent did not show that the inventors possessed the claimed subject matter: these claims “speak of a signal processor generically; its specification, however, only describes correlation canceler techniques, and [plaintiff’s expert] admits at the time of the invention only correlation cancellation techniques were known to one skilled in the art. . . . nothing in [the claims] or the specification constitute an adequate description of all signal processors for use in a non-correlation canceler. Therefore, [defendants’] motion for summary judgment on written description is granted.” Id. at 29-30.

-Defendants’ motion for summary judgment of invalidity, based on the written description requirement, as to U.S. Patent No. 6,699,194. Defendants, relying on the specification itself and the testimony of the inventor, argued that the specification in plaintiff’s patent did not disclose certain methods in the claims because it did not “disclose any method of estimating pulse rate from an unclean spectrum” – it only disclosed “classifying clean spectral data.” Id. at 121 (emphasis added). The Court agreed. Id. at 129.

-Defendants’ motion for summary judgment of noninfringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,215,984. The Court concluded that some of plaintiff’s expert’s statements on the issue were inconsistent with her other testimony, and plaintiff “should not be able to create a question of fact to defeat summary judgment via [its expert’s] new declaration if it contradicts her prior testimony.” Id. at 69 & n.322.

-Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment of noninfringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,122,535 (“the ‘535 patent”). First, while the Court did not grant plaintiff’s motion as to literal infringement “in light of the manner in which the parties’ presented their arguments,” id. at 199, it concluded that defendants were precluded from relying on the doctrine of equivalents. Plaintiff demonstrated that: (i) defendants’ infringement contentions would eliminate an element of claim 1, id. at 155; (ii) the way in which defendants had distinguished its patent from prior art during prosecution demonstrated prosecution history estoppel, id. at 156, 158; and (iii) the ‘535 patent contained disclosed but unclaimed embodiments, id. at 162. Second, the Court granted plaintiff’s motion as to direct infringement because defendants had not shown that every step of method claim 1 of the ‘535 patent had actually been performed; “that [plaintiff’s] products may be capable of performing the claimed method is not enough.” Id. at 167 (emphasis added). As a result, plaintiff was neither a direct nor indirect infringer. Id. at 165-66.

As to plaintiff’s Daubert motion, plaintiff argued defendants’ expert on infringement and validity with respect to U.S. Patent No. 6,725,074 (“the ‘074 patent”) was not qualified to opine on “fuzzy logic,” which was a central aspect of the ‘074 patent. Id. at 90 & n.424. This expert had no formal education or training in fuzzy logic, but defendants argued that because he was “qualified as an expert in the field of digital signal processing, source code and medical devices, and this field includes the technology disclosed in the ‘074 patent, namely, the use of uncertain and fuzzy logic software applications in medical devices,” he possessed “at least ordinary skill in the art” such that he could “provide helpful testimony on how software using uncertain and fuzzy logic works within the devices at issue.” Id. at 91 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). The Court agreed and denied plaintiff’s motion. Id. at 91-92. In doing so, the Court distinguished case law in which an expert was unqualified because that expert did not have knowledge about the relevant field of technology, had “other significant deficiencies,” and had not properly addressed the issue of a person of ordinary skill in the art. Id. at 93-94. Here, defendants’ expert’s qualifications, in light of plaintiff’s own description of a person of ordinary skill in the art, was appropriate. Id. at 94-95.

Masimo Corporation v. Philips Electronics North American Corporation, et al., C.A. Nos. 09-080-LPS-MPT &amp...