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Space Data Corp. v. Alphabet Inc.

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

June 25, 2019

ALPHABET INC., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER ON DAUBERT MOTIONS [RE: ECF 480, 484]

          BETH LAB SON FREEMAN United States District Judge.

         The parties to this action are Plaintiff Space Data Corporation (“Space Data”) and Defendants Alphabet Inc., Google LLC, and Loon LLC (collectively, “Google”). Space Data alleges[1] that Google infringes Space Data's patents and unlawfully uses Space Data's confidential information and trade secrets. See generally 5AC, ECF 434. In preparation for trial which is set to begin on August 5, 2019, each side submitted a Daubert motion to exclude two of the opposing side's experts. See ECF 480; ECF 484. The Court held a Daubert hearing (“the Hearing”) on May 31, 2019. With respect to each side's Daubert motions, the Court rules as follows, for the reasons below and as stated on the record at the Hearing.


         Federal Rule of Evidence 702 provides that a qualified expert may testify if “(a) the expert's scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will help the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue; (b) the testimony is based on sufficient facts or data; (c) the testimony is the product of reliable principles and methods; and (d) the expert has reliably applied the principles and methods to the facts of the case.” Fed.R.Evid. 702. In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 589 (1993), the Supreme Court held that Rule 702 requires the district court to act as a gatekeeper to “ensure that any and all scientific testimony or evidence admitted is not only relevant, but reliable.” In Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 147 (1999), the Supreme Court clarified that the “basic gatekeeping obligation” articulated in Daubert applies not only to scientific testimony but to all expert testimony. The Supreme Court also made clear that the reliability inquiry is a flexible one, and “whether Daubert's specific factors are, or are not, reasonable measures of reliability in a particular case is a matter that the law grants the trial judge broad latitude to determine.” Id. at 153; see also Micro Chem., Inc. v. Lextron, Inc., 317 F.3d 1387, 1391 (Fed. Cir. 2003).

         “Daubert and Rule 702 are safeguards against unreliable or irrelevant opinions, not guarantees of correctness.” i4i Ltd. P'ship v. Microsoft Corp., 598 F.3d 831, 854 (Fed. Cir. 2010) aff'd, 131 S.Ct. 2238 (2011). So long as an expert's methodology is sound and her opinions satisfy the requirements of Rule 702, underlying factual disputes and how much weight to accord the expert's opinion are questions for the jury. Micro Chem., 317 F.3d at 1392; Primiano v. Cook, 598 F.3d 558, 565 (9th Cir. 2010).


         A. Google's Daubert Motion (ECF 484)

         Google moves to exclude certain opinions of Space Data's damages expert Dr. Christine Meyer and Space Data's technical expert Dr. Sam Pullen. See Google's Motion at 1, ECF 484. The challenged opinions concern U.S. Patent No. 9, 678, 193 (“the '193 patent”) and U.S. Patent No. 9, 643, 706 (“the '706 patent”). See generally Id. However, on May 9, 2019, the Court granted Google's motion for summary judgment of non-infringement of the '193 patent. See Summary Judgment Order at 21, ECF 524 (572). In addition, Space Data's opposition affirmatively moots issues raised in Google's Daubert motion with respect to the '706 patent. See Space Data's Opp'n at 10, ECF 506. At the Hearing, Google confirmed that its Daubert motion contains no live issues. See Hearing Tr. at 2:24-3:1, ECF 548. Accordingly, Google's Daubert motion is hereby TERMINATED AS MOOT.

         B. Space Data's Daubert Motion (ECF 480)

         Space Data moves to exclude certain opinions and testimony of Google's trade secret and patent infringement expert Dr. John Hansman and Google's damages expert Dr. Daniel Ingberman. See Space Data's Motion at 1-2, ECF 479-18. For each expert, Space Data challenges both trade secret opinions and opinions pertaining to the '193 patent. For the reasons previously discussed, Space Data's motion with respect to opinions pertaining to the '193 patent is hereby TERMINATED AS MOOT. Thus, the remaining issues concern only trade secret opinions. The Court addresses each expert in turn.

         1. Dr. Hansman

         Space Data challenges two categories of Dr. Hansman's opinions: (1) Dr. Hansman's “rebuttal” of Dr. Meyer's liability assumptions concerning trade secret misappropriation; and (2) Dr. Hansman's opinions regarding Loon's independent development. See Space Data's Motion at 5, 8. Each category of challenged opinions is discussed in turn.

         a. Dr. Hansman's Rebuttal to Dr. Meyer's Liability Assumptions

         Dr. Meyer is Space Data's damages expert. As part of her report on damages for trade secret misappropriation, Dr. Meyer assumed liability as a predicate to her damages analysis. See Space Data's Motion at 5; see also Meyer Damages Report, Ex. 4 to Kamber Decl., ECF 497-5. Space Data points out that Dr. Meyer qualified her description of trade secret misappropriation with phrases such as “I understand, ” Space Data “contends, ” and Space Data “alleges.” See, e.g., Meyer Damages Report ¶ 57. Space Data argues that because Dr. Meyer “assumed liability” and did “not opine[] on liability, ” Dr. Hansman's “technical rebuttal report” of Dr. Meyer's liability assumptions concerning trade secret misappropriation is improper and should be excluded. See Space Data's Motion at 5-6. More specifically, Space ...

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