The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a district court ruling of non-infringement based on the inadmissibility of unauthenticated printouts of source code as evidence. Wi-LAN Inc. v. Sharp Elecs. Corp., Case No. 20-1041 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 6, 2021) (Dyk, J.)
In 2015, Wi-LAN brought two separate patent infringement suits against Sharp Electronics and Vizio, both of which alleged direct and induced infringement of various claims of two Wi-Lan patents. The cases were managed in parallel by the district court, but consolidated on appeal. In both cases, the district court entered a stipulation of non-infringement with respect to one of the patents, which “relates generally to multimedia encoders and specifically [to] an integrated multimedia stream multiplexer,” based on Wi-LAN’s concession that it could not prove infringement under the district court’s construction of two claim terms. On appeal, the Federal Circuit had little difficulty concluding that the district court’s constructions were correct and affirming its ruling of non-infringement.
With respect to the other patent, the district court granted summary judgment of non-infringement, holding that Wi-LAN lacked sufficient admissible evidence to prove direct infringement. The involved patent is directed to “methods to display interlaced video on [a] noninterlaced monitor,” also known as “deinterlacing.” The deinterlacing functions of Sharp and Vizio’s televisions reside on each of the television’s “system-on-chip.” To establish that the source code underlying these deinterlacing functions practiced the patented methods, Wi-LAN filed (and subsequently dismissed without prejudice) additional lawsuits against third-party chip manufacturers from which it obtained source code printouts—purportedly reflecting the implementation of the deinterlacing process in a specified list of chips used in Sharp and Vizio’s televisions—along with declarations from employees of the manufacturers purporting to authenticate the source code printouts. The district court held that the source code printouts were inadmissible and that Wi-LAN therefore had failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to non-infringement. On appeal, Wi-LAN presented three theories as to why the district court erred in finding this evidence inadmissible, all of which the Federal Circuit rejected.
First, Wi-LAN argued that the source code printouts constituted a business record and thus were admissible as an exception to the hearsay rule under Federal Rule of Evidence 803(6). Specifically, Wi-LAN argued that it properly authenticated the printouts through the declarations of the chip manufacturers’ employees. The Federal Circuit acknowledged that declarations are typically used at summary judgment as a proxy for trial testimony, but explained that they cannot be used that way unless the witness would also be available to testify at trial. Because Wi-LAN conceded that it did not think it would be able to force the chip manufacturers’ employees to testify at trial, the Court found that the declarations could not be used as a substitute for trial testimony to authenticate the printouts and that the printouts therefore were not properly authenticated pursuant to Rule 803(6)(D).
Wi-LAN also argued that the declarations themselves constituted a business record. Because they were procured specifically for the purpose of litigation, however, [...]