Following a five-day trial in May 2016 in ART+COM Innovationpool GmbH v. Google Inc., C.A. No. 14-217-TBD (D. Del. Sept. 9, 2016), after which the jury returned a verdict of non-infringement and invalidity of the asserted patent, Judge Timothy B. Dyk, sitting by designation, considered (1) Plaintiff’s motion for relief from judgment under Rule 60(b); (2) Plaintiff’s motions for post-trial relief; and (3) Defendant’s renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law as to Section 101 invalidity.
The Court denied the Rule 60(b) motion. Plaintiff argued that the Court should have excluded the testimony of a fact witness who Defendant had retained as a consultant. The Court observed that case law “establish[ed] that a party can enter into agreements with fact witnesses that compensate those witnesses for consulting work and not trial testimony.” 60(b) Decision at 5. The Court concluded that this was the case here where there was no evidence that Defendant had compensated the witness for his testimony or that the consulting fees impacted the testimony, nor was the witness’s fee unreasonably high, even though the fee was five times more than his salary, in light of his expertise and the complexity of the case. Id. at 6-7. In light of Plaintiff’s opportunity to depose and fully cross-examine the witness, the Court also concluded that the consulting agreement had not prejudiced Plaintiff. Id. at 8-9.
The Court also denied Plaintiff’s motions for post-trial relief. Plaintiff had moved for judgment as a matter of law as to infringement and as to no invalidity, both of which the Court denied. See Post-Trial Relief Decision at 4-21. For example, as to invalidity based on a particular reference, the Court disagreed with Plaintiff that “the public must be able to ascertain the individual elements of an invention for [this particular reference] to constitute a public use.” Id. at 16. Rather, “[t]he critical inquiry is whether the invention is used without restriction of any kind.” Id. at 17. Here, the reference “was publicly demonstrated at two technical conferences, to attendees with knowledge in the art, without restriction or effort to maintain confidentiality,” and these acts were sufficient to constitute public use.” Id. at 18-19.
The Court also denied Plaintiff’s motion for a new trial. Plaintiff argued witness testimony had been improperly admitted, but the Court denied the motion on this basis for the same reasons it denied the 60(b) motion. Plaintiff also cited the jury’s short, 45-minute deliberation, but the Court noted “the jury was extremely attentive throughout the trial, as evidenced by the questions is submitted to be asked of witnesses, and appeared to take the matter very seriously. And for the same reasons articulated [regarding denial of Plaintiff’s other motions], the court finds that the jury verdict was not counter to the great weight of the evidence.” Id. at 29-30.
Finally, the Court denied Defendant’s JMOL motion. As a threshold matter, the Court observed, regarding Plaintiff’s objections that no Section 101 issues has been presented to the jury, that “[w]hile the language of Rule 50 does not clearly indicate that it may be used to raise a purely legal challenge not considered by the jury, there must be some way to raise a legal defense that was not presented to the jury, and the most appropriate vehicle appears to be a Rule 50(b) motion. Several circuits have indicated that purely legal issues may be raised in a Rule 50 motion.” JMOL Decision at 3-4. Accordingly, while the Court “need not decide whether a Rule 50 motion is the only way to present a legal issue post-trial . . . it is one appropriate way. [Defendant] has appropriately renewed the § 101 patent eligibility issue.” Id. at 4. However, the Court then concluded that the claims were not patent-eligible. It had previously it denied Defendant’s motion for summary judgment of patent ineligibility before trial because the one independent claim of the asserted patent was directed to an abstract idea but also demonstrated sufficient inventive concept. Id. at 2. The Court saw “no basis to reconsider the court’s earlier rulings” where no new evidence was presented at trial that changes the Court’s prior conclusions. Id. at 5.