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MLC Intellectual Property, LLC v. Micron Technology, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 8, 2019

MLC INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
MICRON TECHNOLOGY, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART MLC'S FIRST MOTION IN LIMINE RE: TESTIMONY OF MCALEXANDER RE: DKT. NO. 426

          SUSAN ILLSTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         On June 6, 2019, the Court held a hearing on numerous pretrial motions. For the reasons set forth below, MLC's First Motion In Limine regarding Mr. McAlexander's testimony is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         MLC seeks to preclude McAlexander from offering testimony related to construing the terms “selecting device” and “comparator, ” as well as from opining that the '571 Patent is incompatible with NAND architecture.

         I. McAlexander's testimony that the “selecting device” requires at least four inputs

         MLC seeks to exclude McAlexander's testimony related to the “selecting device” requiring “at least four” inputs or to whether a POSITA would construe it in such a way. Mot. at 3-5 (Dkt. No. 426). MLC notes the Court previously rejected Micron's construction proposal that the “selecting device” has a function of “selecting one from at least four pre-determined reference signals” during supplemental claim construction. Id. at 3-4. Instead, the Court “decline[d] to construe ‘plurality' as ‘at least four' . . . and construes ‘plurality' to have its plain and ordinary meaning.” Supplemental Claim Construction Order at 20 (Dkt. No. 201). MLC asserts that McAlexander's construction of the “selecting device” to require “at least four” inputs contradicts the Court's Supplemental Claim Construction Order. Mot. at 5.

         Micron argues that McAlexander's “at least four” opinion is consistent with both § 112(6) law and the Court's claim constructions. Opp'n at 2 (Dkt. No. 488). With respect to § 112(6) law, Micron argues that Mr. McAlexander's “at least four” opinion is warranted because “[t]he Court found in its first Claim Construction Order that these limitations are governed by § 112, ¶ 6” and “Mr. McAlexander logically concluded that a ‘verify reference select circuit' must have four inputs” by examining the specification. Id. at 3-4. Micron further contends that Mr. McAlexander's “at least four” opinion is consistent with the Court's claim construction because the Court's Supplemental Claim Construction Order “found only that the function [of the selecting device] did not require a selection of four signals” but “did not address whether the structure necessarily has four inputs.” Id. at 5.

         The Court agrees with MLC that McAlexander's opinion about the “selecting device” requiring “at least four” inputs contradicts the Court's Supplemental Claim Construction Order and may not be presented at trial. The Court finds no reason the structure of the “selecting device” ought to be construed to include “at least four” inputs when its function merely requires “selecting one of a plurality.” Thus, the Court declines Micron's invitation to read the “at least four” language into either the function or structure of the “selecting device.” Accordingly, the Court GRANTS this aspect of MLC's motion.

         II. McAlexander's testimony related to the Accused Products' use of a resistor ladder to generate reference signals

         MLC moves to exclude McAlexander's testimony that “a circuit does not infringe if it even uses resistor ladder to generate reference signals, regardless of how those signals are later selected.” Mot. at 6. In particular, MLC asserts the following testimony is inconsistent with the Court's claim construction:

[T]he Accused Products use a resistor ladder to generate a variable wordline bias voltages used in program verify operations that Dr. Lee identifies as the purported reference signals. Thus, on this basis alone, the Accused Products fall precisely outside of the scope of this claim, as construed by the Court.

         McAlexander Rebuttal Report at ¶ 164 (Dkt. No. 426-2) (emphasis in original) (footnote omitted). MLC argues that such testimony is inconsistent with the Court's construction, which “does not remove all circuits with resistor ladders from the scope of the invention.” Supplemental Claim Construction Order at 16. The Supplemental Claim Construction Order further clarifies its requirement that “selection be made without the use of a resistor ladder in the verify reference select circuit, not that any circuit that has a reference select circuit be devoid of resistor ladders which may be included for non-selection purposes.” Id. MLC asserts that McAlexander impermissibly “extends the Court's construction to mean that a resistor ladder cannot be used by any intermediate circuit for non-selection purposes, such as generating signals.” Mot. at 7.

         Micron argues that McAlexander's opinion is consistent with the Court's construction. Micron contends that McAlexander is simply opining that “the circuitry used for generation negates the existence of other circuitry used for selection” such that “the accused products do not perform a selection at all but rather generate a single voltage with different values.” Opp'n at 10. Micron cites to other portions of McAlexander's Rebuttal Report to support its reasoning and to contextualize the challenged testimony. Id. at 11.

         The Court agrees with Micron. As the parties are aware, the function of the resistor ladder in Micron's products is disputed. MLC argues that Micron's resistor ladder is irrelevant to the “selection” process, and Micron contends, inter alia, that its products do not perform the “selecting” function and that the accused products use a resistor ladder to generate a voltage to perform what MLC describes as “selecting.” Accordingly, the Court DENIES this aspect of MLC's motion.

         III. McAlexander's testimony that the ‚Äúselecting ...


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