In two recently issued rulings and recommendations, Special Master B. Wilson Redfearn considered defendant motions to strike portions of the plaintiff’s expert reports. In the first ruling, the Special Master considered whether to strike portions of an expert report analyzing alleged infringement by defendants Sprint and Simplexity based on their marketing of Apple products—products which the Special Master previously had “specifically stated . . . were not a part of this case.” Eon Corp. IP Holdings, LLC v. Flo TV Inc., et al., C.A. No. 10-182 (RGA) (D. Del. Aug. 28, 2013). In his ruling, the Special Master explained “[f]or the third time: The [Apple] products identified in the Fourth Supplement of Accused Products are not a part of this case. Those products were untimely identified and, if they had been allowed, it would have compromised not only document production but fact discovery as well as the dates and deadlines set out in the agreed Amended Scheduling Order.” Id. at 4 (the Fourth Supplement of Accused Products had been served on February 22, 2013, only 6 days before the document production deadline under the Amended Scheduling Order). Although the plaintiff argued that its earlier disclosures had included references to the Apple products, the Special Master found that the earlier disclosures included “no more than passing references” to them, and did not provide the claim-by-claim contentions necessary to put Sprint and Simplexity on notice that they were accused of infringement based on Apple products. Id. at 4-5.
The Special Master opted not to strike the offending portions of the plaintiff’s expert report, though. Citing a Western District of Pennsylvania decision, and Rule 12(f), the Special Master explained that a court is only permitted to strike matters from the pleadings, and “[a]n expert report is not a pleading.” Id. at 6 (citing Wonderland Nurserygoods Co., Ltd. v. Thorley Indus., LLC, 2013 WL 2471801 (W.D. Pa. June 7, 2013)). Instead, the Special Master explained, Rule 37(b)(2)(A)(ii) allows a court to enter “an order prohibiting a party from introducing designated matters into evidence.” Id. at 6. The Special Master therefore ruled that, subject to the trial judge’s discretion, “any expert opinion or suggested testimony that assumes or attempts to prove that the Apple wireless devices infringe the ‘757 patent should not be allowed.” Id.
In the second ruling, the Special Master considered a motion filed by defendant Qualcomm to strike portions of the plaintiff’s expert report which stated that Qualcomm’s accused product satisfies the “Radio Wave Transmission and Reception Means” and “Monitoring Means” claims of the patent-at-issue, two claims which were not included in the plaintiff’s infringement contentions. Eon Corp. IP Holdings, LLC v. Flo TV Inc., et al., C.A. No. 10-182(RGA) (D. Del. Sept. 5, 2013). Again citing Wonderland Nursery Goods, the Special Master explained that “a motion to strike parts of a report is not the appropriate method to address this issue. I am therefore treating this as a motion to exclude the evidence at trial.” Id. at 1 n.1.
In this case, the plaintiff responded both in its answering brief and at a hearing before the Special Master that it was not asserting infringement of the “Radio Wave Transmission and Reception Means” claim. On that basis, the Special Master found that there was no need to take action to strike or exclude the portions of the opinion at this stage of the litigation, and instead explained that “the issue can be addressed to the trial judge through an appropriate objection” if and when it is raised at trial. Id. at 2-3. With respect to the “Monitoring Means” claim, the Special Master found that the plaintiff’s expert was entitled to set out his opinion on this claim in response to Qualcomm’s claim construction positions. Based on the relatively early stage of the litigation, the Special Master found that Qualcomm would not be prejudiced by being required now to provide rebuttal expert testimony on the issue. Id. at 3-4.