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Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. v. Huang

United States District Court, E.D. Texas, Sherman Division

June 6, 2019

HUAWEI TECHNOLOGIES CO., LTD., and FUTUREWEI TECHNOLOGIES, INC.,
v.
YIREN RONNIE HUANG, and CNEX LABS, INC.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          AMOS L. MAZZANT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Strike the Expert Reports and Testimony of Keith R. Ugone, PH.D. Regarding Damages (Dkt. #260). The Court, having considered the pleadings, reports, and relevant briefings, finds that the motion should be denied.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. (“Huawei”) is a multinational networking and telecommunications equipment and services company headquartered in China. Plaintiff Futurewei Technologies, Inc. (“Futurewei”) is a subsidiary of Huawei with several offices throughout the United States, including Plano, Texas. In December 2010, Futurewei offered Defendant Yiren “Ronnie” Huang (“Huang”) employment as a Principal Engineer for its solid-state drive (“SSD”) storage group, to assist in development and implementation of Advance Computing Network (“ACN”), non-volatile memory express (“NVMe”), and SSD technology. Huang accepted the offer in January 2011. The Employment Agreement contained provisions relating to non-disclosure, assignment, and non-solicitation.

         Based on Huang's job responsibilities, Plaintiffs contend that Huang had access to confidential, proprietary, and trade secret information. On May 31, 2013, Huang ended his employment with Futurewei. On June 3, 2013, Huang, along with others, incorporated CNEX Labs, Inc. (“CNEX”), a Delaware Corporation with its principal place of business in California. Plaintiffs allege, among other things, that Huang incorporated CNEX to compete directly with Plaintiffs; Huang is using Plaintiffs' confidential, proprietary, and trade secret information to develop and improve SSD technology and NVMe related technology for CNEX; and further that Huang and CNEX are improperly soliciting employees away from Plaintiffs. Additionally, Plaintiffs allege that Huang started to engage in this behavior informally prior to leaving Futurewei. Plaintiffs further contend that Huang and CNEX began filing patent applications in June 2013, using the information that Huang obtained through his employment with Futurewei.

         On March 11, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Strike the Expert Reports and Testimony of Keith R. Ugone, PH.D. Regarding Damages (Dkt. #260). On March 26, 2019, Defendant CNEX filed a response (Dkt. #276). On April 4, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a reply (Dkt. #288). On April 9, 2019, Defendant CNEX filed a sur-reply (Dkt. #304).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal Rule of Evidence 702 provides for the admission of expert testimony that assists the trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue. Fed.R.Evid. 702. In Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the Supreme Court instructed courts to function as gatekeepers, and determine whether expert testimony should be presented to the jury. 509 U.S. 579, 590-93 (1993). Courts act as gatekeepers of expert testimony “to make certain that an expert, whether basing testimony upon professional studies or personal experience, employs in the courtroom the same level of intellectual rigor that characterizes the practice of an expert in the relevant field.” Kuhmo Tire Co. v. Carmichael, 526 U.S. 137, 152 (1999).

         The party offering the expert's testimony has the burden to prove that: (1) the expert is qualified; (2) the testimony is relevant to an issue in the case; and (3) the testimony is reliable. Daubert, 509 U.S. at 590-91. A proffered expert witness is qualified to testify by virtue of his or her “knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education.” Fed.R.Evid. 702. Moreover, to be admissible, expert testimony must be “not only relevant but reliable.” Daubert, 509 U.S. at 589. “This gate-keeping obligation applies to all types of expert testimony, not just scientific testimony.” Pipitone v. Biomatrix, Inc., 288 F.3d 239, 244 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing Kuhmo, 526 U.S. at 147).

         In deciding whether to admit or exclude expert testimony, the Court should consider numerous factors. Daubert, 509 U.S. at 594. In Daubert, the Supreme Court offered the following, non-exclusive list of factors that courts may use when evaluating the reliability of expert testimony: (1) whether the expert's theory or technique can be or has been tested; (2) whether the theory or technique has been subjected to peer review and publication; (3) the known or potential rate of error of the challenged method; and (4) whether the theory or technique is generally accepted in the relevant scientific community. Id. at 593-94; Pipitone, 288 F.3d at 244. When evaluating Daubert challenges, courts focus “on [the experts'] principles and methodology, not on the conclusions that [the experts] generate.” Daubert, 509 U.S. at 595.

         The Daubert factors are not “a definitive checklist or test.” Id. at 593. As the Supreme Court has emphasized, the Daubert framework is “a flexible one.” Id. at 594. The test for determining reliability can adapt to the particular circumstances underlying the testimony at issue. Kuhmo, 526 U.S. at 152. Accordingly, the decision to allow or exclude experts from testifying under Daubert is committed to the sound discretion of the district court. St. Martin v. Mobil Expl. & Producing U.S., Inc., 224 F.3d 402, 405 (5th Cir. 2000) (citations omitted).

         ANALYSIS

         Defendants designated Keith R. Ugone, PH.D. as an expert on damages. Plaintiffs request that the court exclude Dr. Ugone's affirmative report (the “Ugone CC Report”) and his rebuttal report (the “Ugone's RB Report”) in their entirety and prohibit Dr. Ugone from testifying in connection with Defendants' counterclaims against Plaintiffs or in rebuttal to the testimony of Plaintiffs' damages expert.

         I. The ...


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