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VIA Technologies, Inc. v. Asus Computer International

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

July 19, 2017

VIA TECHNOLOGIES, INC. A CALIFORNIA CORPORATION, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ASUS COMPUTER INTERNATIONAL, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER REGARDING MOTIONS IN LIMINE

          BETH LABSON FREEMAN United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs VIA Technologies, Inc., VIA Technologies, Inc., and VIA Labs, Inc., (collectively, “VIA” or “Plaintiffs”) bring this lawsuit against Defendants ASMedia Technology Inc., ASUSTeK Computer Inc., and ASUS Computer International (collectively, “ASUS” or “Defendants”), currently alleging trade secret misappropriation in violation of Cal. Civ. Code §§ 3426 et seq. (“CUTSA”) and 18 U.S.C. §§ 1836 et seq. (“DTSA”). This Order addresses the parties' motions in limine. For the reasons explained below and on the record at the July 13, 2017 pretrial conference, the motions are decided as follows:

Plaintiffs' Motion in Limine No. 1: GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
Plaintiffs' Motion in Limine No. 2: GRANTED.
Plaintiffs' Motion in Limine No. 3: GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
Plaintiffs' Motion in Limine No. 4: DENIED.
Defendants' Motion in Limine No. 1: DENIED.
Defendants' Motion in Limine No. 2: GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART.
Defendants' Motion in Limine No. 3: DENIED.

         I. PLAINTIFFS' MOTIONS IN LIMINE

         A. Plaintiffs' Motion in Limine No. 1 to Exclude Evidence and Argument Relating to Intellectual Property of ASUS and Theories of Liability that are No Longer at Issue

         Plaintiffs move to exclude evidence or argument relating to: (1) intellectual property (such as patents and trade secrets) belonging to Defendants, and/or (2) dropped or dismissed theories of liability, such as claims that Defendants misappropriated designs for PCIE and infringed United States Patent No. 8, 476, 747 (“the '747 patent”). ECF 266. Plaintiffs argue that this evidence is irrelevant and would confuse the jury, result in undue delay, and waste time. Id.

         Defendants respond that they do not intend to use evidence of their own intellectual property as a defense to patent infringement or trade secret misappropriation. ECF 286. However, Defendants argue that they should be permitted to introduce evidence of their own intellectual property to show lack of malicious theft of trade secrets. Id. Defendants argue this evidence is relevant because it suggests a corporate culture of creativity and respect for others' creativity. Id. at 2-3.

         The Court agrees with Defendants that general evidence of their corporate culture, including that they own intellectual property, is relevant rebuttal evidence to malicious theft of trade secrets. Accordingly, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs' motion with respect to evidence relating to the intellectual property of ASUS.

         The Court, however, agrees with Plaintiffs that evidence relating to dropped or dismissed theories of liability, in general, should be excluded. However, it may be the case that, even if such evidence is not allowed to be introduced in the first instance, it may be proper rebuttal. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs' motion with respect to evidence relating to dropped or dismissed theories of liability. Defendants may, however, move for modification of this order if such evidence become relevant to a defense.

         B. Plaintiffs' Motion in Limine No. 2 to Preclude Defendants from Misrepresenting at Trial that VIA's Trade Secret Claims Only Concern 29 Analog Schematics

         Plaintiffs move to preclude Defendants from representing at trial that Plaintiffs' trade secret claims as to analog circuit schematics are limited to only 29 schematics. ECF 267. On October 12, 2016, Magistrate Judge Lloyd issued an order “limit[ing] the scope of [Plaintiffs'] requested [trade secret] discovery to 24 analog schematics of its choice, in addition to those schematics included in the power efficiency combination trade secret, ” as well as the “list of 39 digital designs” (i.e., Verilog source code) identified in its May 27, 2016 Second Amended Trade Secret Disclosures. ECF 182.

         Plaintiffs argue that, even though discovery proceeded on this limited basis, they should not be precluded from arguing the full scope of their analog circuit schematics trade secret claims at trial, which, according to Plaintiffs, consist of 1, 116 schematics relating to certain subcomponents of technologies in USB 3.0. ECF 267 at 2. Plaintiffs argue this is the case because Magistrate Judge Lloyd's order only concerned discovery, not dispositive issues, and in fact Magistrate Judge Lloyd lacked jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) to render a dispositive order that would foreclose Plaintiffs from proceeding on any trade secret claims. Id. at 2-3. Plaintiffs also argue that trade secret misappropriation and misuse can be proven circumstantially, and they should be allowed to use the 29 schematics to prove by way of example that Defendants misappropriated the full 1, 116 schematics. Id. at 4-5.

         Defendants respond that the purpose of Magistrate Judge Lloyd's order was to limit the scope of the trade secret case, and the Court should continue to enforce its boundaries at trial. ECF 287. Defendants argue that Plaintiffs' jurisdictional arguments are waived because they did not, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(a), object to Magistrate Judge Lloyd's order within 14 days. Id. at 2. Defendants also argue that Plaintiffs' jurisdictional arguments are incorrect because courts have an inherent power to control their dockets. Id. at 3. Defendants additionally disagree that Plaintiffs can prove trade secret misappropriation by example, arguing that Plaintiffs must specifically identify the precise aspects of the analog circuit schematics (which are a hybrid of trade secrets and publicly known ...


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