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Webasto Thermo & Comfort North America, Inc. v. Bestop, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

July 25, 2019

WEBASTO THERMO & COMFORT NORTH AMERICA, INC. and WEBASTO-EDSCHA CABRIO USA, INC Plaintiffs/Counter-Defendants,
v.
BESTOP, INC., Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff.

          R. STEVEN WHALEN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

          OPINION AND ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO EXCLUDE THE EXPERT TESTIMONY OF MARK A. ROBINSON (ECF NO. 168)

          PAUL D. BORMAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This action involves Plaintiffs Webasto Thermo & Comfort North America, Inc. and Webasto-Edscha Cabrio USA, Inc.'s (collectively “Webasto”) claim that Defendant Bestop, Inc. (“BesTop”) infringes Webasto's U.S. Patent No. 9, 346, 342 (“the '342 Patent”), entitled “Vehicle Roof and Roof Opening Mechanism.” Webasto claims that BesTop's Accused Product, the Sunrider for Hardtop (“the Sunrider”), infringes Webasto's ‘342 patent as embodied in Webasto's Black Forest ThrowBack top (“ThrowBack”). BesTop responds that the Sunrider does not infringe and that the claims of the '342 Patent were disclosed in prior art and are therefore unpatentable. The Court has issued claim construction and summary judgment rulings and the parties have filed Daubert[1] and in limine motions. Now before the Court is Webasto's Motion to Exclude the Expert Testimony of BesTop's Expert, Mark A. Robinson (ECF No. 168.) The matter has been fully briefed and the Court held a hearing on June 6, 2019. For the reasons that follow, Webasto's motion is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED PART.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The background facts of this litigation are set forth in multiple prior Orders of this Court and the reader's knowledge of those facts is presumed. Particular facts, as specifically relevant to the issues in this motion, will be discussed where appropriate.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         “Admissibility of expert testimony is governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and informed by the seminal case applying Rule 702, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 113 S.Ct. 2786, 125 L.Ed.2d 469 (1993).” In re Southeastern Milk Antitrust Litigation, 739 F.3d 262, 267 (6th Cir. 2014). Fed.R.Evid. 702 provides:

A witness who is qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education may testify in the form of an opinion or otherwise 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.

         “[T]he rules of evidence - especially Rule 702 - do assign to the trial judge the task of ensuring that an expert's testimony both rests on a reliable foundation and is relevant to the task at hand.” Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579, 597 (1993). The trial court's “gatekeeping” task with respect to expert testimony applies not just to scientific evidence, as was at issue in Daubert, but to all types of specialized knowledge presented through an expert witness. Kumho Tire Co., Ltd. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 148-49 (1999). “”[T]he relevant reliability concern may focus upon personal knowledge or experience . . . [as] there are many ...


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