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Polara Engineering Inc. v. Campbell Co.

United States District Court, C.D. California, Southern Division

February 27, 2017

POLARA ENGINEERING, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
CAMPBELL COMPANY, Defendant.

          ORDER RE: POSTTRIAL MOTIONS

          DOUGLAS F. MCCORMICK UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on the parties' posttrial motions. Defendant Campbell Company (“Campbell”) moves for judgment as a matter of law. Plaintiff Polara Engineering, Inc. (“Polara”) moves for a permanent injunction, a judgment of willfulness and an award of treble damages, a finding of exceptional circumstances and a corresponding award of attorney's fees, and an award of supplemental damages, prejudgment interest, and postjudgment interest.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Polara filed this patent-infringement suit against Campbell on January 2, 2013. Dkt. 1. Polara, a manufacturer of accessible pedestrian signal systems and pedestrian push buttons, alleged that Campbell was infringing on Polara's United States Patent No. 7, 145, 476 (the “'476 Patent”). Id. at 2. The '476 Patent, issued in December 2006, was for a “2-wire push button station control system for a traffic light controlled intersection.” Id. at 3. Polara alleged that Campbell, a manufacturer of traffic-industry products, had developed an “Advisor Advanced Accessible Pedestrian Station, ” or “AAPS, ” that infringed the '476 Patent. Id.

         Polara moved for summary judgment of infringement of Claims 1 through 4 of the '476 Patent. Dkt. 87. Claim 1 recites:

         A control system by which vibro-tactile messages are provided to alert pedestrians when to cross a traffic light controlled intersection, said control system comprising:

at least one push button station located at the traffic light controlled intersection to be crossed by pedestrians, said push button station including a push button head that is depressed by the pedestrians and message generating means adapted to cause said push button head to vibrate to provide a tactile indication to a visually impaired pedestrian when to cross the intersection; and
a control unit that is responsive to the depression of the push button head of said push button station to transmit to the push button station both power and digital data signals over a single pair of wires by which to power and control the operation of said message generating means.

Tr. Exh. 9 at 11.[1] Claim 2 recites the control system described in Claim 1 and further provides that “at least one push button station also includes a microcontroller to receive the power and digital data signals from said control unit, said microcontroller providing output signals to control the operation of said message generating means.” Id. Claim 3, in turn, is dependent on Claim 2, and further requires that “said message generating means of said at least one push button station includes a vibration driver connected to said microcontroller to cause said push button head to vibrate and thereby provide said tactile indication to the visually impaired pedestrian that it is safe to cross the intersection.” Id. Claim 4 recites the control system described in Claim 2, “wherein said message generating means of said at least one push button station includes a sound chip in which prerecorded messages are stored and from which an audible indication is provided to the visually impaired pedestrian whether” it is safe to cross the intersection. Id.

         The judge originally assigned to this case-United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney-found that Campbell's AAPS infringed Claims 1 through 4 of the '476 Patent, and that Polara was thus entitled to partial summary judgment on the issue of infringement as to those claims. Dkt. 155. With trial remaining on damages, Polara's willfulness claim, and Campbell's invalidity and unenforceability defenses, the parties consented to this Court's jurisdiction. Dkt. 383; see 28 U.S.C. § 636(c).

         A jury trial began on June 21, 2016. See Dkt. 413. After seven days of jury selection, testimony, and argument, the jury returned a special verdict on June 30, 2016. See Dkt. 440. The jury found that Campbell had not shown that Claims 1 through 4 of the '476 Patent were invalid. Id. at 2-3. The jury also found that Polara had not proved that it was entitled to lost profits, but it awarded damages of $412, 926 based on a 15 percent royalty rate and total sales of $2, 752, 842. Id. at 4. The jury found that Campbell had willfully infringed the '476 Patent. Id. Finally, the jury made an advisory finding that Polara had not engaged in inequitable conduct before the Patent and Trademark Office (“PTO”) that rendered the '476 Patent unenforceable. Id. at 5.

         These motions followed.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Campbell's Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law

         Campbell moves for judgment as a matter of law, arguing that: (1) the '476 Patent is invalid because it was in public use for more than one year before a patent application was filed; (2) Claims 1 through 4 were obvious in light of the prior art; (3) the '476 Patent is invalid because it was described in publications more than one year before Polara filed the patent application; and (4) Campbell did not act willfully in infringing the '476 Patent. Dkt. 450 at 1-56, 66-82.

         1. Standard of Review

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 50 permits a court to grant judgment as a matter of law “when the evidence permits only one reasonable conclusion and the conclusion is contrary to that reached by the jury.” Ostad v. Or. Health Scis. Univ., 327 F.3d 876, 881 (9th Cir. 2003). If substantial evidence supports the jury's verdict, the court should deny a motion for judgment as a matter of law. Wallace v. City of San Diego, 479 F.3d 616, 624 (9th Cir. 2007) (as amended); Callicrate v. Wadsworth Mfg., Inc., 427 F.3d 1361, 1366 (Fed. Cir. 2005). “Substantial evidence is such relevant evidence as reasonable minds might accept as adequate to support a conclusion even if it is possible to draw two inconsistent conclusions from the evidence.” Maynard v. City of San Jose, 37 F.3d 1396, 1404 (9th Cir. 1994) (as amended). A court “must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party . . . and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor.” E.E.O.C. v. Go Daddy Software, Inc., 581 F.3d 951, 961 (9th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted, alteration in original). Neither a “mere scintilla” of evidence nor pure speculation is sufficient to sustain a verdict for the prevailing party. See Lakeside-Scott v. Multnomah Cty., 556 F.3d 797, 802-03 (9th Cir. 2009). And because a post-verdict Rule 50(b) motion is “a renewed motion, ” it is “limited to the grounds asserted in the pre-deliberation Rule 50(a) motion.” Go Daddy, 581 F.3d at 961.

         2. Waiver

         As an initial matter, Polara argues that “[b]ecause Campbell never raised any arguments regarding patent invalidity in its pre-verdict Rule 50(a) motion, Campbell has waived those arguments.” Dkt. 461 at 24. The Court disagrees.

         a. Background

         After Campbell rested its case, Polara moved for judgment on Campbell's claim that the '476 Patent was invalid because of Polara's inequitable conduct. 6 Tr. 123-26.[2] Polara also moved for judgment on Campbell's “prior sale or offer for sale” (or “on-sale” bar), “experimental use, ” “prior use, ” and anticipation and obviousness defenses. Id. at 127. Before hearing argument from the parties on Polara's motions, the Court stated:

I think it's perfectly appropriate for me to, even just on the basis of hearing those potential arguments, to tell you that I am not going to -- you've made it at the appropriate time, so you've reserved the ability to argue it after a jury verdict.

Id. The Court also indicated that it would defer ruling on the experimental use, obviousness, and anticipation issues. Id. The Court did hear argument from Campbell regarding the on-sale bar issue. See id. at 130-33.

         Campbell subsequently indicated that it wanted to “bring a motion pursuant to Rule 50 concerning the claim of willfulness.” Id. at 135. After hearing argument from Polara, id. at 137-39, the Court “den[ied] the Rule 50 motion with respect to the willfulness argument, ” id. at 139. The Court also ruled:

I find that there's sufficient evidence of contested issues of fact on experimental use and on the obviousness and anticipation doctrines as related to the [prior art] devices to put those issue[s] to the jury. I deny Rule 50 motions as to those.
I am also going to deny the Rule 50 motion as to the inequitable conduct defense. I find that there are issues of fact both with respect to the defendant's conduct as well as the intent to deceive or mislead sufficient to take the issue to the jury. . . .

Id. at 139-40. The Court subsequently granted Polara's Rule 50 motion as to the on-sale bar because “no reasonable jury could conclude that the evidence has shown that the claimed invention was subject to a commercial offer for sale on or before that date.” 7 Tr. 6. The Court also noted that Campbell was left with two statutory bar arguments: that over a year before the patent application was filed, the claimed invention was (1) described in a publication and (2) used openly and non-experimentally. Id.

         b. Relevant Law

         The same claims or issues on which judgment as a matter of law is sought under Rule 50(b) must have been raised in a pre-verdict motion for judgment under Rule 50(a). See Fed.R.Civ.P. 50(b), Adv. Comm. Notes (1991 Amend.); see also Go Daddy, 581 F.3d at 961 (“Because it is a renewed motion, a proper post-verdict Rule 50(b) motion is limited to the grounds asserted in the pre-deliberation Rule 50(a) motion.”). The Ninth Circuit has explained that this rule limitation serves two purposes. First, the rule “preserves the sufficiency of the evidence as a question of law, allowing the district court to review its initial denial of judgment as a matter of law instead of forcing it to ‘engage in an impermissible reexamination of facts found by the jury.'” Freund v. Nycomed Amersham, 347 F.3d 752, 761 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting Lifshitz v. Walter Drake & Sons, Inc., 806 F.2d 1426, 1428-29 (9th Cir. 1986)). Second, it ensures that the court and the parties are put on notice of “any alleged deficiencies in the evidence at a time when the opposing party still has an opportunity to correct them.” Id.

         c. Analysis

         “Although courts construe strictly the requirement that a motion be made after a case-in-chief, they are generally more liberal about what suffices as a motion for a directed verdict after the close of all the evidence.” Reeves v. Teuscher, 881 F.2d 1495, 1498 (9th Cir. 1989). Thus, Rule 50(b) “may be satisfied by an ambiguous or inartfully made motion for a directed verdict or by an objection to an instruction for insufficient evidence to submit an issue to the jury.” Id. In Reeves, for example, the Ninth Circuit found that the defendants properly preserved a Rule 50(b) motion where the trial court interrupted their argument and told them to renew their motion after the jury's verdict. Id.

         Similarly here, the Court elected to “withhold argument” until after Polara had stated the bases for its Rule 50(a) motion, and deferred argument as to the experimental use and the obviousness and anticipation issues until after the jury's verdict. 6 Tr. 127. The Court did hear argument from both parties as to the on-sale bar, see id. at 128, 130-33, but informed Campbell that it did not “have to be heard now” regarding the inequitable-conduct issue and could brief that issue post-verdict, see id. at 129-30. As such, the Court and the parties understood the bases for any Rule 50(a) motion regarding patent invalidity, and the Court did not hear oral argument from the parties on the issues that it found were properly submitted to the jury. The Court therefore finds that Campbell is not barred from challenging the jury's invalidity findings in a Rule 50(b) motion.

         3. Public Use

         The jury found that Campbell failed to prove that the '476 Patent is invalid because it was in public use for more than one year before Polara filed the patent application. Campbell moves for judgment as a matter of law on this invalidity theory. Dkt. 450 at 30-46. Because substantial evidence shows that Polara's early use was experimental use necessary to ensure that its invention would work for its intended purpose, Campbell's motion is denied.

         a. Background

         Polara entered the accessible pedestrian signal (“APS”) system market with an eight-wire system called the Navigator. 2 Tr. 22-27.[3] Because many intersections did not have the wiring necessary to support an eight-wire device, installation was difficult and labor-intensive. Id. at 26-27. Leslie Beckwith, a design engineer for Polara, testified that he and another Polara engineer, Randy Cruz, began discussing a two-wire version of the Navigator in late 2000 or early 2001. 3 Tr. 80-81. John McGaffey, Polara's president and owner, testified that it took Polara “about three years” to develop a two-wire APS system. 2 Tr. 32. They “did considerable testing in the lab, ” 3 Tr. 80, and in Polara's “parking lot in the back, ” 2 Tr. 35-36, to make sure the first prototype worked. Because the first device was “a little bit cobbled together, ” Polara then designed something “with a little more permanent construction” that could be installed on the street. 3 Tr. 80. McGaffey also testified that the device needed to be “tested on live intersections-and not just one intersection, it need[ed] to be tested on multiple because every intersection . . . has different equipment, different challenges and problems that it has to overcome.” 2 Tr. 36.

         In January 2002, McGaffey instructed Polara's office manager to send a letter to Mark Miller, the traffic engineer for the City of Fullerton, requesting permission to install a prototype system at the intersection of Gilbert Street and Commonwealth Avenue. Id. at 37-38; 3 Tr. 60-63; Tr. Exh. 193. The letter explained that the identified intersection was close to Polara's plant, which would allow for daily monitoring “during the test phase.” Tr. Exh. 193. Polara also represented that it “would take full responsibility for installing, maintaining and deinstalling the equipment.” Id.

         After the prototype system was installed at the Gilbert and Commonwealth intersection, Polara noticed that “it wasn't functioning correctly, ” 2 Tr. 41, because the communication between the control unit and push-button station was “not reliable, ” 3 Tr. 81. Polara used an oscilloscope to measure the data signal and learned that “a lot of electrical noise” was affecting the signal; Polara uninstalled the system that same day. Id. at 82; see 2 Tr. 41-42. Beckwith and Cruz revised the device's transmitting and receiving circuitry to make it “much more resistant to external sources of interference.” 3 Tr. 83-84. The process took “a few months” because they conducted “a variety of experiments in the lab” before they were satisfied that the device could “be used on the street.” Id. at 84. Polara then installed the revised system at the same intersection. Id. at 84-85; 2 Tr. 42. Polara monitored the device on a daily basis-initially twice a day-to see if “it was performing as it was supposed to.” 2 Tr. 42-43; see also 3 Tr. 85-86. At “some point, ” Polara became satisfied that the device was performing as it should. 2 Tr. 43.

         Polara next installed the same product at the intersection of Nutwood Avenue and State College Boulevard in Fullerton. Id. at 44; 3 Tr. 86-87. Polara selected this intersection because it was larger than the one at Gilbert and Commonwealth and “had a much higher pedestrian traffic flow, which meant the buttons would get pushed on a much higher volume.” 2 Tr. 44; see also 3 Tr. 87. Right after installation, Polara observed a shortcoming in the way the digital-data signal was being communicated. 3 Tr. 87-88. Polara modified the circuitry inside the prototype to adjust the sensitivity of the receiving circuit. Id. at 88-89. Polara was able to make this modification without uninstalling the system, id. at 89, and McGaffey characterized it as a “minor adjustment, ” 2 Tr. 45. Polara's employees visited the intersection several times to test the system's performance, sometimes using an oscilloscope or other device. 3 Tr. 89-90. The prototype remained at Nutwood and State College from fall of 2002 to fall of 2003, and Polara “continued to monitor it and consider it a test intersection.” 5 Tr. 181-82.

         Polara also “felt that it was imperative” to test the device in a “wet environment” because “water can cause all kinds of problems with electronic equipment.” 2 Tr. 46. The City of Burnaby, Canada, which “got a lot of rain” and snow, was “willing to test a system.” Id. at 46-47. McGaffey testified that the weather was “a very, very significant factor” in choosing to test the device in Canada. Id. at 47. Likewise, Beckwith testified that testing in a wet and cold environment “was very important.” 3 Tr. 91. The City of Burnaby arranged for Cobra Electric to install and monitor the test system. 2 Tr. 47. Because Polara did not have control over all of the equipment, it had both entities sign a confidentiality agreement. Id. at 47-49; Tr. Exh. 205.

         After Polara became satisfied that the two-wire APS system was working “even in the harsher conditions of Canada, ” it decided to announce the release of the product at an industry conference in August 2003. 2 Tr. 49. Polara began selling its two-wire Navigator in late September 2003. Id. at 49-51; see Tr. Exh. 203.

         b. Relevant Law

         Under 35 U.S.C. § 102(b), a patent is invalid if “the invention was . . . in public use or on sale in this country [] more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent in the United States.” 35 U.S.C. § 102(b).[4] The public use bar applies if the invention is “ready for patenting” and in “public use.” Invitrogen Corp. v. Biocrest Mfg., L.P., 424 F.3d 1374, 1379 (Fed. Cir. 2005). Evidence of experimental use, even if public, may mean that the bar does not apply. EZ Dock v. Schafer Sys., Inc., 276 F.3d 1347, 1351 (Fed. Cir. 2002); see also Pfaff v. Wells Electronics, Inc., 525 U.S. 55, 64 (1998) (“[A]n inventor who seeks to perfect his discovery may conduct extensive testing without losing his right to obtain a patent for his invention-even if such testing occurs in the public eye. The law has long recognized the distinction between inventions put to experimental use and products sold commercially.”).

         A use is experimental if it is designed to “(1) test claimed features of the invention or (2) to determine whether an invention will work well for its intended purpose.” Clock Spring, L.P. v. Wrapmaster, Inc., 560 F.3d 1317, 1327 (Fed. Cir. 2009). The Federal Circuit has outlined certain objective factors that may be instructive when determining experimental use, including: (1) the need for public testing; (2) the inventor's amount of control over the experiment; (3) the nature of the invention; (4) the length of the test period; (5) whether payment was made; (6) whether there was a secrecy obligation; (7) whether records of the experiment were kept; (8) who conducted the experiment; (9) the degree of commercial exploitation during testing; (10) whether the invention reasonably required evaluation under actual conditions of use; (11) whether testing was systematically performed; (12) whether the inventor continually monitored the invention during testing; and (13) the nature of contacts made with potential customers. Id. at 1327.

         c. Analysis

         Polara filed its initial application on August 5, 2004. 3 Tr. 12. The Court therefore looks at public use of the '476 Patent before August 5, 2003. According to Campbell, the two-wire device embodying the '476 Patent was in public use as of early 2002, when it was installed at the intersection of Gilbert and Commonwealth. Campbell reasons that by that time, the invention had been reduced to practice because a prototype had operated successfully in Polara's parking lot. See Dkt. 450 at 32-34; Dkt. 481 at 5-9.

         Campbell does not deserve judgment as a matter of law on the public-use bar. At Campbell's request, see 6 Tr. 7, the jury was instructed on the 13 factors identified by the Federal Circuit in Clock Spring, see 7 Tr. 70. Polara produced substantial evidence to support a jury finding in its favor on these factors.

         The jury heard testimony on the nature of the invention and the need for public testing and evaluation under actual conditions of use. Even though the prototype worked in Polara's parking lot, Polara needed to test the device on live intersections because it was “a life safety device, ” and “the last thing” Polara wanted was “to put a device on an intersection that's not been thoroughly vetted and potentially have a blind person get the wrong message and walk out in front of the cars and get hit.” 2 Tr. 36. The jury also heard that an APS system must be capable of enduring different weather conditions, volumes of pedestrian traffic, and electrical-noise interference. See 2 Tr. 43-45; 3 Tr. 91. Polara introduced testimony that most intersections have underground wiring. See 2 Tr. 28-30, 207. The '476 Patent specification expressly contemplates use at actual “traffic light controlled intersection[s]” and the use of “existing pairs of underground wires over which power and data signals are transmitted.” Tr. Exh. 9 at 1, 7. The summary states that the “pairs of wires . . . are, in the preferred embodiment, the existing underground wires that were previously installed for the purpose of connecting the . . . push buttons to a traffic light control cabinet.” Id. at 7.

         Polara presented evidence on other Clock Spring factors. Fullerton did not pay for the installations at its intersections; indeed, Polara removed the device at the end of the test period. See 2 Tr. 39; 5 Tr. 181-82; see also Tr. Exh. 193. Polara retained control over the device; Fullerton merely opened the traffic cabinet so that Polara could install it. 2 Tr. 49. Polara engaged in little if any commercial exploitation of its new two-wire device during the testing period, instead waiting until the completion of testing in Canada to unveil the device at an August 2003 trade show. 2 Tr. 49, 95.[5]

         Campbell points out that Polara produced no records reflecting its testing, did not have confidentiality agreements with Fullerton employees, and made no modifications to the device after the early stages of testing at the first Fullerton intersection. While this evidence may have been inconsistent with experimental use, it was the jury's job to weigh the factors and make a determination. Polara presented substantial evidence of experimental use, and the Court cannot second-guess the jury's determination under Rule 50.

         Campbell also contends that Polara's testing was for commercial development, not experimental use, pointing to Polara's testing of how the device operated through underground wires, under harsh weather conditions, in large or busy intersections, within range of other electrical devices, and in areas where other conduits are run. Dkt. 481 at 13. The Court disagrees.

         Polara's testing the durability of the digital-data signal related to the invention's claimed features. “Experimentation evidence includes ‘tests needed to convince [the inventor] that the invention is capable of performing its intended purpose in its intended environment.'” EZ Dock, 276 F.3d at 1352 (alteration in original) (quoting Gould Inc. v. United States, 579 F.2d 571, 583 (Ct. Cl. 1978)); see also Manville Sales Corp. v. Paramount Sys., Inc., 917 F.2d 544, 551 (Fed. Cir. 1990) (“When durability in an outdoor environment is inherent to the purpose of an invention, then further testing to determine the invention's ability to serve that purpose will not subject the invention to a [public use] bar.”). In EZ Dock, for example, two inventors designed a floating dock made of polyethylene and installed one for a customer in a location that experienced “heavier boat traffic and more turbulent water flow.” 276 F.3d at 1349. One of the inventors testified that the purpose of the sale was to see how the dock would hold up under more turbulent water conditions. Id. at 1353. The Federal Circuit held that a reasonable jury could find that the sale of the dock was for experimental rather than commercial development because “floating docks, by their nature, must endure all kinds of water conditions, including choppy water created by weather and boating.” Id. Here, the evidence supported the jury's finding that an APS system must work in a variety of conditions, such as inclement weather, various pedestrian volumes, and environments with different levels of electrical noise.

         In sum, substantial evidence supports the jury's rejection of Campbell's public-use defense because Polara showed that installing the device in Fullerton was an experimental use. Campbell's motion for judgment as a matter of law on public use is therefore denied.

         4. Obviousness

         The jury found that Campbell failed to prove that Claims 1 through 4 were either anticipated or obvious. Campbell now renews its motion for judgment as a matter of law that Claims 1 through 4 were obvious in light of the prior art, including United States Patent No. 4, 851, 836 (“Wilkinson”). Dkt. 450 at 54-60. Because the jury relied on substantial evidence to reach its conclusion on the factual issues underlying obviousness, and because the jury's ultimate conclusion was correct as a matter of law, the Court denies Campbell's motion.

         a. Relevant Law

         A patent is obvious and therefore invalid “if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains.” 35 U.S.C. § 103.

         Obviousness is a question of law based on underlying factual findings. Kinetic Concepts, Inc. v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., 688 F.3d 1342, 1356-57 (Fed. Cir. 2012). The Court must presume that the jury resolved the underlying factual disputes in Polara's favor and leave those presumed findings undisturbed if they are supported by substantial evidence. Id. The Court then examines the jury's ultimate legal conclusion de novo to see whether it is correct in light of the jury's presumed factual findings. Id. at 1357.

         The underlying factual findings are: (1) the scope and content of the prior art; (2) the differences between the claims and the prior art; (3) the level of ordinary skill in the art; and (4) any relevant secondary considerations, such as commercial success, long felt but unsolved needs, and failure of others. KSR Int'l Co. v. Teleflex Inc., 550 U.S. 398, 406 (2007). The Court must consider all four of these factors before reaching a conclusion. Kinetic, 688 F.3d at 1360. At all times, the burden is on Campbell to establish by clear and convincing evidence that the patent is obvious. Id.

         b. Background

         Neither party requested that the jury answer any special interrogatories. The obviousness portion of the verdict form asked whether Campbell had proven, by clear and convincing evidence, that any of Claims 1 through 4 were invalid due to obviousness. See Dkt. 440 at 2. As to each claim, the jury answered no. Id.

         At trial, the dispositive issue regarding invalidity was whether an alternating power signal like the signal disclosed in Wilkinson was a digital-data signal. Like the '476 Patent, Wilkinson disclosed a two-wire device. Tr. Exh. 106 at 4 (“[O]nly two wires are needed to power and control the system.”). Wilkinson used an alternating power signal in which the power-supply unit provided a half-wave voltage signal during the DON'T WALK mode and a full-wave voltage signal during the WALK mode. Id. Testimony established that two other pedestrian crosswalk devices, the Campbell Enlightened and Tassimco devices, operated similarly. 6 Tr. 36-41. Campbell's expert Dr. Christopher Jones testified that the full-wave/half-wave signal identified in Wilkinson and these other devices was a digital-data signal. Id.

         Polara introduced evidence showing that Wilkinson, Campbell Enlightened, and Tassimco did not send digital data. Beckwith, the inventor of the '476 Patent, testified that these devices did not transmit digital data over power like the Polara Navigator two-wire device. 3 Tr. 93-96. McGaffey testified that these devices could turn a light on or off only by manipulating voltage. 3 Tr. 20-21. They could not accomplish the other functions enabled by the '476 Patent. Id. at 23-25; see 2 Tr. 64-68.

         Polara's expert Dr. Ian Harris distinguished Wilkinson and, by extension, the Campbell Enlightened and Tassimco devices. Dr. Harris testified that the Campbell Enlightened sends only power and no data. 6 Tr. 81-82 (“The Enlightened doesn't send digital data signals by any normal conventional understanding of digital data signals.”). He noted that the Enlightened device did not have a microcontroller to interpret a digital-data signal. Id. at 82-83. He similarly observed that the Tassimco device and the device described in Wilkinson transmitted only power. Id. at 87-88 (“Q. So in all three-the Wilkinson, Enlightened, and Tassimco-all that's being sent is power? A. Yes.”).

         On cross-examination, Dr. Harris maintained that “send[ing] digital signals and power together over two wires was not obvious at that time.” Id. at 118. He continued to distinguish Wilkinson, noting that Wilkinson did not disclose encoding a digital signal on top of the power supply. Id. (“Wilkinson sent power or not. It didn't send digital data.”). Dr. Harris also rejected Dr. Jones's contention that Wilkinson's manipulation of the power signal constituted data. Id. (“Nobody would call that digital data. That's power.”).

         c. Analysis

         The jury's finding of nonobviousness indicates that it credited Polara's contention that the differences between the prior art asserted by Campbell and the '476 Patent were significant, and that the prior art did not disclose various elements of Claims 1 through 4. In light of the jury's validity finding, the Court must infer that the jury found Dr. Harris to be credible and persuasive when testifying that Wilkinson's power signal was not digital data. “[W]hether the prior art discloses the limitations of a particular claim is a question of fact to be determined by the jury.” Kinetic, 688 F.3d at 1363. Polara presented ample evidence that Wilkinson and the other prior art did not disclose the digital-data-over-power limitation of Claims 1 through 4. The Court must defer to the jury's factual finding. Id. at 1356-57.

         Campbell argues that a person of ordinary skill in the art would have combined Wilkinson's use of two wires with the use of digital data over power and thus that Claims 1 through 4 are an obvious combination of familiar elements. But Campbell offered no evidence at trial to support this argument. Nor did it define “a person of ordinary skill in the art.” It did not ask its expert, Dr. Jones, whether such a person would have been motivated to combine Wilkinson with digital data over power to achieve the advancement offered by the Navigator two-wire device. “[P]ossibility and ease do not automatically translate to motivation.” Golden Bridge Tech., Inc. v. Apple, Inc., No. 12-04882, 2015 WL 2064525, at *9 (N.D. Cal. May 1, 2015). And it offered no evidence to rebut or contradict Dr. Harris's testimony that “[t]o encode the digital signal on top of the power was a complicated thing.” 6 Tr. 118.

         The Court understands that the idea of transmitting digital data over a power line was not new at the time of the '476 Patent. But “a patent composed of several elements is not proved obvious merely by demonstrating that each of its elements was, independently, known in the prior art.” KSR, 550 U.S. at 418. “[I]nventions in most, if not all, instances rely upon building blocks long since uncovered, and claimed discoveries almost of necessity will be combinations of what, in some sense, is already known.” Id. at 418-19. Put differently, “[a]n invention may be a combination of old elements disclosed in multiple prior art references.” Plantronics, Inc. v. Aliph, Inc., 724 F.3d 1343, 1354 (Fed. Cir. 2015) (citing Cross Med. Prods, Inc. v. Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Inc., 424 F.3d 1293, 1321 (Fed. Cir. 2005)). Because the prior-art references did not disclose using digital data over power to transmit digital data from the control unit to the various message generating means, the '476 Patent did more than just combine known elements.

         Finally, the jury was instructed to consider secondary considerations indicating nonobviousness, including whether the products covered by the invention were commercially successful due to the claimed invention's merits, whether a long-felt but unsolved need was resolved by the claimed invention, and whether others copied the claimed invention. 7 Tr. 74-75.

         Substantial evidence supports the jury's finding in Polara's favor on these issues. Polara introduced evidence that its two-wire Navigator device resolved a long-felt but unsolved need for a two-wire device with the features of its eight-wire Navigator system such as a locate tone, audible messages, and a vibrating button. 2 Tr. 22-27. Many of Polara's potential customers resisted installing an eight-wire device because their existing intersections had only two wires, meaning that wiring had to be added at considerable expense. Id. at 26-29. Polara worked for almost three years to develop a device that would use the two existing wires and not require additional wiring. Id. at 28, 32.

         Polara also introduced evidence showing that its two-wire Navigator device enjoyed substantial commercial success because the claimed invention, i.e., the use of digital data over power, enabled them to offer the functionality of an eight-wire system with only two wires. Polara's customers were “very happy to see” the two-wire device and “preferred it over the eight-wire.” Id. at 52. Finally, Polara introduced evidence suggesting that Campbell introduced its infringing two-wire accessible pedestrian system to compete with Polara's Navigator two-wire device. Id. at 70-71; 3 Tr. 28-29, 118, 120-22.

         This motion is not a vehicle for the Court to second-guess the jury's assessment of the evidence. The jury's finding of nonobviousness was supported by substantial evidence and the jury did not misapply the relevant law to the facts. Therefore, Campbell has not carried its burden of overcoming the presumption of validity, and its motion for judgment as a matter of law on obviousness must be denied.

         5. Prior Publication

         The jury found that Campbell failed to prove that the '476 Patent is invalid because it was described in three publications more than one year before the patent application was filed. Campbell asks the Court to overturn the jury's verdict. Dkt. 450 at 54-57. The Court declines to do so because the evidence showed that the three publications did not disclose each and every element of the '476 Patent.

         a. Background

         At trial, Campbell introduced a March 2003 survey conducted by the United States Access Board. 5 Tr. 150-51; Tr. Exh. 331. The survey included Polara's original eight-wire Navigator and stated that the

[m]anufacturer is developing a model that operates with only two wires to the pushbutton and is programmable after installation by a traffic engineer using a handheld PDA type device. The new model will have the capability to alternate signal sounds, to countdown pedestrian clearance interval and present a signal at the far end of the crosswalk only. It is expected to be available by fall 2003.

Tr. Exh. 331 at CAMP024409-10; see 5 Tr. 150-52. An April 2003 report includes an identical entry. 2 Tr. 196-98; Tr. Exh. 311 at 1, 29-31. McGaffey testified that he had provided this entry's information and had been talking to authors of various industry publications about Polara's development of a two-wire APS system. See 2 Tr. 197-99.

         Campbell also introduced a May 2003 report containing an entry on the eight-wire Navigator. Id. at 200-03; Tr. Exh. 312 at 1, 233-34. The “comments” section stated:

Manufacturer is developing a model that operates with only two wires from the intersection traffic control cabinet to the pushbutton and is programmable after installation by an engineer using a handheld PDA type device. The new model will have the capability to synchronize sounds, alternate sounds, mute all sounds except the activated crosswalks, to verbally countdown pedestrian clearance interval or present a signal at the far end of the crosswalk only.

Tr. Exh. 312 at 234.

         b. Relevant Law

         A patent is invalidated as anticipated if “the invention was patented or described in a printed publication” more than one year before the patent application was filed. 35 U.S.C. § 102(b). To be anticipatory, the prior art reference must “explicitly or inherently” disclose each and every element of the claimed invention. In re Gleave, 560 F.3d 1331, 1334 (Fed. Cir. 2009). An anticipatory prior art reference must also enable “one of skill in the art to practice an embodiment of the claimed invention without undue experimentation.” Am. Calcar, Inc. v. Am. Honda Motor Co., 651 F.3d 1318, 1341 (Fed. Cir. 2011); see also In re Donohue, 766 F.2d 531, 533 (Fed. Cir. 1985) (‚ÄúSuch possession is effected if one of ordinary skill in the art could have combined the publication's description of the invention with ...


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