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LoggerHead Tools, LLC v. Sears Holdings Corporation and Apex Tool Group, LLC

Area of Law:

Patent infringement. Plaintiff sued Defendant, alleging, inter alia, patent and trademark violations.

Grounds:

1. Plaintiff sought to exclude Dr. Fronczak's opinions regarding willful infringement because it was not relevant. 2. Plaintiff sought to exclude Dr. Fronczak's opinions regarding the patent's invalidity due to obviousness because he did not conduct a "legally sufficient obviousness analysis" and did not give a reason for combining prior art references.

Outcome:

Plaintiff's motion was granted in part and denied in part.

Analysis:

First, the court granted Plaintiff’s motion to exclude Dr. Fronczak’s opinions regarding willful infringement. Dr. Fronczak had “no particular expertise in this area” and his testimony was “not helpful to the jury, as it [did] not concern a matter beyond the understanding of the average person.” Slip op. at 3-4. Because his opinion regarding willfulness would not assist the trier of fact, it was not relevant.

Second, the court denied Plaintiff’s motion to exclude Dr. Fronczak’s opinions regarding obviousness. In support of its motion, Plaintiff argued that Dr. Fronczak did not conduct a legally sufficient obviousness analysis because he did not “engage in an element-by-element comparison to determine obviousness.” Slip op. at 5. The court disagreed with plaintiff, noting that “the overall obviousness inquiry must be expansive and flexible.” Id. Further, Dr. Fronczak would have satisfied Plaintiff’s inappropriately strict standard because he “went through each claim and discussed specific references in the prior art.” Id.

Plaintiff also argued that Dr. Fronczak did not give reasons for combining the prior art. The court disagreed. Dr. Fronczak explicitly stated his reasons for each asserted claim. If he engaged in impermissible hindsight, that would go to the weight of his testimony, not admissibility.