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Venture Corporation Ltd. v. Barrett

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Jose Division

May 5, 2015

VENTURE CORPORATION LTD., et al., Plaintiffs and Counterdefendants,
JAMES P. BARRETT, Defendant and Counterclaimant.

OMNIBUS ORDER RE: MOTIONS IN LIMINE (Re: Docket Nos. 153, 154, 155, 156, 157, 164)

PAUL S. GREWAL, Magistrate Judge.

Before the court are Plaintiffs and Counterdefendants Venture Corporation Ltd., et al., and Defendant and Counterclaimant James P. Barrett's motions in limine.[1] Today, the parties appeared at the pre-trial conference and supplemented their briefing with oral argument. As previewed at the hearing, the court GRANTS the requested relief, but only IN-PART, as explained below. Any further objections may be addressed at trial.

A. Docket No. 153: The Ventures' motion to exclude evidence of purported invention disclosure

The best evidence rule requires that the original of a document be presented as evidence.[2] A copy is admissible, however, unless "a genuine question is raised about the original's authenticity or the circumstances make it unfair to admit the duplicate."[3] A witness may not testify as to his own prior statement if his testimony is offered to prove the truth of the prior statement.[4]

The Ventures move to preclude Barrett from introducing into evidence a print-out of a purported invention disclosure for MineTracer that Barrett produced and authored, and to preclude witnesses from testifying as to the proposed disclosure's contents.[5] The Ventures say the proposed disclosure is unauthentic, unreliable and in violation of the best evidence rule.[6] It contains inadmissible hearsay offered for the truth of the matter-that Barrett invented the MineTracer on his own time and with his own resources.[7] Barrett's proposed disclosure supports Barrett more than a disclosure the Ventures say he emailed to them.[8] This is because the proposed disclosure omits admissions demonstrating that VDSI equipment, supplies, facilities and employees were used.[9] No native version or copy of the purported disclosure exists anywhere else.[10]

Barrett argues that if the document exists nowhere else, that is only determinative of the wiping processes of the Ventures; and there is no proof that the email and metadata the Ventures refer to is authentic-no testifying witness has been named.[11] The proposed disclosure is not hearsay because it is offered to show what Barrett delivered to VCL and VCL's knowledge, rather than for the truth of the matter asserted. It may further serve as a prior consistent statement under Fed.R.Evid. 801(d)(1)(B).

The question of which invention disclosure is correct is one for the jury.[12] The Ventures' motion to exclude is DENIED.

B. Docket No. 154: The Ventures' motion to exclude the Barrett journal as hearsay

A document is a business record for purposes of Fed.R.Evid. 803(6) only if it is "kept in the course of a regularly conducted activity of a business, organization, occupation, or calling" and if "making the record was a regular practice of that activity."[13] Prior consistent statements offered to rebut an express or implied charge of recent fabrication or improper influence or motive are not hearsay.[14]

The Ventures seek to exclude Barrett's journal as inadmissible hearsay with no applicable exception, especially the business records exception.[15] The Ventures claim the journal cannot possibly contain everything needed to reduce the invention to practice as Barrett has asserted, and Barrett maintained the journal at home and never showed the journal to anyone but his wife.[16]

Barrett argues the journal is offered not to prove the truth of the matter asserted, but rather to show that it exists and that Barrett recorded what he recorded.[17] Barrett contends the statements further are admissible as prior consistent statements under Fed.R.Evid. 801(d)(1)(B).[18]

The journal is admissible to show it exists and potentially as a prior consistent statement. The Ventures' second motion in limine is DENIED.

C. Docket No. 155: The Ventures' motion to preclude admission of various hearsay expressions of interest from unrelated entities

Letters and emails are out of court statements and, unless they fall into an exception to the hearsay rule, cannot be admitted for the truth of the matter asserted.[19] In the Ninth Circuit, emails are not automatically admissible under the business records exception to the hearsay rule.[20] Testimony from an interested individual about what a potential ...

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