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Inc. v. Sprint Solutions, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

April 28, 2015

2-WAY COMPUTING, INC., Plaintiff(s),
v.
SPRINT SOLUTIONS, INC., et al., Defendant(s)

ORDER

JAMES C. MAHAN, District Judge.

Presently before the court is defendants Sprint Solutions, Inc., Nextel Finance Company, Sprint United Management Company, Nextel of California, Inc., Nextel Boost of California, LLC, and Nextel Communications, Inc.'s (collectively "Sprint") motion in limine to exclude the testimony of plaintiff's expert Wayne E. Stark ("Stark") from presenting any theory of literal infringement of claim 6 at trial. (Doc. # 180). Plaintiff 2-Way Computing ("2-Way") filed a response, (docs. ## 189 and 191), and Sprint filed a reply, (docs. ## 200 and 201).[1]

I. Background

This is an action brought by 2-Way for patent infringement. 2-Way accuses Sprint of infringing U.S. Patent No. 5, 434, 797, entitled "Audio Communication System for a Computer and Network" ("the 797 patent"). (Doc. # 1 at 2). 2-Way describes the patent as an audio communication system that allows the user to talk with other users over a shared network. Rather than having to rely on traditional telephone lines, the user can use a computer to place a call and continue to work on other applications and perform other tasks while the audio communication system is operating. ( Id. at 6). 2-Way asserts that Sprint has infringed on 23 claims of the 797 patent. (Doc. # 23 Attach. 1 at 2).

Robert Barrus is named as the inventor of the 797 patent, which was issued by the U.S. Patent Office on July 18, 1995. (Doc. # 1 at 6).

On June 13, 2014, this court granted partial summary judgment for Sprint and dismissed the issues under the doctrine of equivalents, but denied summary judgment regarding the issues of literal infringement. (Doc. # 160). The court held that audio data packets must consist of status information, audio data, and an arbitration value to constitute an infringement on claim 6. ( Id. at 8-9). The parties have stipulated for trial to begin at the court's convenience after August 24, 2015. (Doc. # 185 at 11). Sprint has filed the instant motion in limine . (Doc. # 180).

II. Legal standard

"The court must decide any preliminary question about whether... evidence is admissible." Fed.R.Evid. 104. Motions in limine are procedural mechanisms by which the court can make evidentiary ruling in advance of trial, often to preclude the use of unfairly prejudicial evidence. United States v. Heller, 551 F.3d 1108, 1111-12 (9th Cir. 2009); Brodit v. Cambra, 350 F.3d 985, 1004-05 (9th Cir. 2003).

"Although the Federal Rules of Evidence do not explicitly authorize in limine rulings, the practice has developed pursuant to the district court's inherent authority to manage the course of trials." Luce v. United States, 469 U.S. 38, 41 n.4 (1980). Motions in limine may be used to exclude evidence in advance of trial. See Fed.R.Evid. 103; United States v. Williams, 939 F.2d 721, 723 (9th Cir. 1991) (affirming district court's ruling in limine that prosecution could admit impeachment evidence under Fed.R.Evid. 609).

Judges have broad discretion when ruling on motions in limine . See Jenkins v. Chrysler Motors Corp., 316 F.3d 663, 664 (7th Cir. 2002); see also Trevino v. Gates, 99 F.3d 911, 922 (9th Cir. 1999) ("The district court has considerable latitude in performing a Rule 403 balancing test and we will uphold its decision absent clear abuse of discretion.").

" In limine rulings are not binding on the trial judge [who] may always change his mind during the course of a trial." Ohler v. United States, 529 U.S. 753, 758 n.3 (2000); accord. Luce, 469 U.S. at 41 (noting that in limine rulings are always subject to change, especially if the evidence unfolds in an unanticipated manner).

III. Discussion

A. Stark's report failed to offer a complete statement of, or a basis or reasons for his opinions pertaining to literal infringement theories for claim 6

Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(2)(B) details how expert witnesses must provide a written report prior to trial. ...


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