Judge Robinson recently issued several new orders and opinions in the ongoing dispute over LCD technology between Apeldyn Corp. and defendants, AU Optronics Corp. (AUO) and Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp. (CMO). Apeldyn Corp. v. AU Optronics Corp., C.A. No. 08-568-SLR (D. Del. Nov. 15, 2011).
In a memorandum opinion (C.A. No. 08-568-SLR, Nov. 15, 2011), the court granted both AUO’s and CMO’s motions for summary judgment of no inducement of patent infringement. Because the court separately granted CMO’s motion for summary judgment of noninfringement, its could not have been found to have induced infringement and was entitled to summary judgment on that issue. Id. at 19. In granting AUO’s motion for summary judgment of no inducement, Judge Robinson rejected two arguments for inducement proffered by Apeldyn. First, she rejected a “transitive knowledge” theory of constructive knowledge, whereby licensees would be charged with knowledge of any patent listed on the face of a patent that is in turn listed on the face of the patent that they license. Such a “finding of constructive knowledge based on the listing of a patent on the face of another patent, twice removed,” the court concluded, would lack grounding in case law. Id. at 20. “There is simply no indication that constructive notice is meant to embrace the hundreds, if not thousands, of listed patents that would be generated in many cases by such an extrapolation.” Id. Second, Judge Robinson rejected Apeldyn’s theory of willful blindness to customers’ infringement, finding that “[a]t best, Apeldyn has framed AUO as a reckless or negligent defendant – not a willfully deliberate one.” Id. AUO’s failure to collect patents related to LCD panels issued to other companies or to gather knowledge as to whether any of AUO’s patents cite to the patent in dispute fell short of the willful blindness contemplated by the Supreme Court in Global-Tech Appliance, Inc. v. SEB S.A. Id.
In the same opinion, Judge Robinson denied AUO’s motions for summary judgment of invalidity and noninfringement, but granted CMO’s motion for summary judgment of noninfringement. She found AUO’s motions to be unsupported by expert testimony or other evidence. Id. at 12. CMO’s motion for summary judgment of noninfringement, by contrast, was well supported by expert testimony and was not contradicted by any evidence supporting Apeldyn’s opposition. Id. at 16-17.
Judge Robinson also ruled in a seperate memorandum order (C.A. No. 08-568-SLR, Nov. 15, 2011) on the defendant’s motion to exclude Apeldyn’s expert witness under Daubert. AUO sought to exclude any testimony regarding the expert’s testing of LCD panels or AUO’s sales and activities. Judge Robinson, however, refused to exclude either class of testimony. Testimony regarding the expert’s tests was proper, in part, because AUO’s critique of the method used was rendered irrelevant by the court’s claim construction. Because the court did not accept a construction with Apeldyn’s additional limitation, she reasoned, the court did not address that limitation, and it remained an issue of fact to be tried. Id. at 5. Furthermore, the court was not impressed by a suggestion by the defendant’s witness that another method of testing would be “probably more scientific,” and characterized this suggestion as “an insufficient basis to preclude [the witness’s] testimony.” Id. at 5-6. Judge Robinson also allowed the expert’s proffered testimony regarding sales activities and whether they encourage infringement. In forming a proper opinion on nonobviousness, she said, an expert witness may consider marketing and sales activities and may rely on the testimony of other witnesses, to the extent that it is reliable. Id. at 6.