Marketing and Business Valuation Expert Witness Testimony Excluded

Plaintiff sued defendant for patent infringement of specific aspects of GPS systems.  The plaintiff hired two expert witnesses, which were subsequently excluded.

Facts:  This case (Visteon Techs., LLC v. Garmin Int’l, Inc. – United States District Court – Eastern District of Michigan – October 14th, 2016) involves a patent infringement dispute.  The plaintiff (Visteon) argues that the defendants (Garmin) directly or indirectly infringes on three patents, all three relating to electronic navigation systems for vehicles.  Visteon seeks reasonable royalty for Garmin’s infringement, prejudgment interest, enhanced damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs.  Garmin denies the accusations.  In order to prove their case, the plaintiffs have hired  Dr. Joel Steckel (marketing expert witness) and Mr. Peter Smith (Business Valuation Expert Witness).  Garmin has filed a Daubert motion to exclude the testimony of these expert witnesses.

Discussion:  With regard to Dr. Steckel, Garmin challenges the scientific adequacy of his survey, challenging parts of the underlying design of the survey and the analysis he used in analyzing the collected data.  The three aspects of Garmin’s arguments which, they argue, lead to inflated values of the accused features are: 1) That Dr. Steckel did not survey the actual patented functionalities, but rather tested much broader features; 2) That Dr. Steckel did not include reasonable distracter features in his product profiles; and 3) That Visteon does not properly extrapolate the correct “economic values” to support the reasonable royalty damage calculation.

In addition, Garmin attacks Mr. Smith’s royalty calculations on three levels: 1) His reliance on Dr. Steckel’s “Economic Values” does not apportion revenue to the allegedly infringing features ; 2) He did not properly apply the Georgia-Pacific analysis ; and 3) He did not explain his methodology that was applied to reach his final royalty calculation.

Dr. Steckel conducted a choice-based conjoint consumer survey in order to determine the value that consumers place on the individual accused patented features.  This type of study is based on the idea that consumers will “consider jointly” the attributes of a product when deciding on purchasing a product.  The respondents’ choices are then compared and one can then estimate the quantitative value of specific features.  After performing his analysis on the survey for this case, Dr. Steckel computed a “willingness to pay” number for each of the accused patents.  Dr. Steckel emphasized that his values do not represent the actual amounts that consumer would be willing to pay for inclusion of the patented features in the competitive market.

Thus, the only “value” expressed in Dr. Steckel’s values is the relative value of the four patent features to one another and do not express anything about the value of the four patented features relative to other important features in the accused devices.  Visteon states that Mr. Smith’s analysis of the data will assist in replying to all of Garmin’s arguments.

Garmin argues that if the court concludes that Mr. Smith’s opinions and testimony are not admissible, then Dr. Steckel’s study should be excluded as well.  The court agrees, and excludes the expert witness testimony of Dr. Steckel and Mr. Smith.

Conclusion:  The motion to exclude the expert witness testimony of Dr. Steckel and Mr. Smith is granted.