Expert Witness Experience
I am an electrical engineer with decades of experience developing and assessing software.
To date I have been retained 18 times as a software expert witness, a computer expert witness or a technology expert witness; ten times for defendants and seven times for plaintiffs. I have been deposed four times and testified in court twice. I have been retained as a non-testifying expert in nine patent-related cases: eight times for defendants and once for a plaintiff. I have been retained for eight contractual disputes; four times for defendants, and four times for plaintiffs.
Three cases required me to provide expert opinion on IP related to electronic hardware as well as software. I have been deposed, testified and cross-examined under oath multiple times as a software expert witness, a computer expert witness or a technology expert witness in US federal court, and I have testified and been cross-examined as a software expert witness before a European ITC Tribunal. I have written expert reports and declarations for five clients, some cases requiring multiple reports. I have also written declarations including two for inter partes patent review petitions and one pertaining to a Covered Business Method (CBM) for a patent of a financial nature. Seven cases have required me to examine source code, and four of them required me to provide expert opinion on whether IP theft or copying had likely occurred. Two cases have required that I opine on whether significant IP had been generated.
Michael Slinn is an active software industry technologist and executive with 45 years of experience, who has developed key technologies, developed many products, performed high-level consulting, mentored companies and individuals, and evaluated engineering departments and development projects. Mr. Slinn has written 3 books on distributed computing and has taught in university, community college and commercially. He developed an online training website and for the last 7 years has used it to teach advanced programming concepts using course material that he wrote.
Mr. Slinn has provided services to a broad mix of plaintiffs and defendants on litigation matters ranging from multi-million dollar, high-profile lawsuits between worldwide industry leaders to smaller-scale litigation between individuals or local businesses. Mr. Slinn’s clients have included Global 1000 and Fortune 500 companies in industries such as enterprise IT including ERP and CRM, online auctions, aerospace software, cartography, mobile phone software and hardware, telephony, foundational internet technology (including prior art), protocols (including streaming protocols), search engine optimization (SEO), distributed call centers, video broadcast, and more.
Mike Slinn is an expert witness, specializing in computer hardware and software technology. He has been accepted as a software expert witness in US Federal courts and in the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, France. For more than 20 years Mr. Slinn as provided expert testimony under oath at trial, for hearings, and for depositions. The scope of his engagements include opining and providing declarations regarding hardware and software patents, commercial disputes and trade secret litigation matters.
Mr. Slinn is available as a consulting or testifying expert witness to assist with understanding the technology and technical issues in the case and providing review, analysis, and testimony (report, deposition, or courtroom) regarding the technology, software, or patents involved in the case. The scope of his work includes opining and providing declarations regarding inter partes patent reviews and a covered business method (CBM). He has assisted counsel in the taking and defending of depositions, reviewing and challenging the testimony of others, and has assisted with trial strategy.
Areas of Expertise
Mr. Slinn’s expertise includes:
- Source code review
- Source code comparison
- Source code reconstruction
- Source code misappropriation
- Source code copyright / patents
- Comparing features, user interfaces, programming interfaces, database schemas, data structures, static models and run-time models
- Software patents
- Trade secrets
- Reverse engineering
- Reconstructing timelines from disparate data, including git history and logs from project management protocols such as Jira, Pivotal Tracker, and Trello
- Open source licensing
- Computer forensics
- Mobile and wireless technology
- Software business, including cloud and web business
- Hardware and infrastructure
- Contract performance
- Project management
Mr. Slinn is:
- Adept at effectively communicating highly technical material to counsel, the judge or a jury in terms they can understand via testimony, reports and declarations.
- Skilled at reviewing and comparing software source code and functionality regarding protected intellectual property including trade secrets, copyrights, patents, licenses and other contractual commitments and requirements.
- Able to reverse engineer and reconstruct hardware and software environments from backups, remnants, and fragments of deprecated software along with re-creating historical hardware and software environments
- Very familiar with functional and performance testing of software against applicable specifications, warranties, and industry standards using proprietary and commercial testing tools and techniques.
Most software professionals are introverts and avoid confrontation, so they are extremely unwilling to participate in an adversarial judicial system as found in the USA. Their professional training generally does not include English compositional skills or presenting to a group. Furthermore, most software professionals generally do not need to be able to think on their feet.
Expert Witness Computer Software
According to Evans Data Corporation there were about 4.4 million software developers in North America in 2016. Very few of them would be suitable candidates for acting as software expert witnesses, IT expert witnesses or technology expert witnesses, and most would avoid such an experience at all costs. Thus, it can be quite difficult to find a suitable software expert witness or computer expert witness.
Software Development Expert Witness
To narrow the field even further, most programmers and even software architects only have experience building and maintaining software. In addition, most other types of software professionals are generally less technical. For example, programmers, Q/A specialists, database specialists, documentation writers and project managers are generally much less technically capable than software architects. Although I have performed all those roles, I am a hands-on software architect with decades of experience writing and maintaining software, and I also have many years of experience focusing on the production of value through the development and customization of software.
Expert Witness Service
The first thing that a software expert witness must do is to assess the software project that is the focus of the litigation. It may be surprising to outsiders to learn that there are no formal courses that teach how to assess software. Thus, most software professionals never become skilled at assessing software projects because they never learn how to do it, and they rarely encounter the need. Without a proper initial assessment it would be impossible for a software expert witness to formulate appropriate opinions and rebut arguments. My assessment methodology has evolved over the 35 years that I have performed this type of work, plus I have had the benefit of being mentored by older software expert witnesses.
Computer experts have a wide variety of skill sets, each focusing on a different aspect. For example, some focus on systems (instead of just individual hardware or software components), some just focus on software, and some just focus on hardware. I take a systems approach, specializing in software, but my training is hardware. I cover all aspects of computer expertise.
Technology Expert Witness
Technology expert witnesses should have a wide and deep background, and they might not consider themselves to be computer experts. While it is true that embedded computers are in many common devices, and modern cars have multiple embedded computers, technology expert witnesses might be conversant in other types of technology, for example telephony, and/or they might have experience in productizing laboratory research projects. I have worked with hundreds of PhDs in the past 45 years, and have helped transform their bleeding-edge research projects into consumer and business products.
Enterprise Software Expert Witness
Enterprise software differs from embedded software, scientific software or personal computer software. While some enterprise software is entirely custom-made (the term of art is bespoke software), it is more common to assemble a custom system from commercially available components.
Enterprise clients of commercial products require considerable configurability, they usually require service contracts, and it is common to extensively customize or integrate enterprise software. In fact, integration and customization costs often exceed the software license cost.
Embedded software experts, scientific software experts and personal computer experts who have not worked on enterprise software projects would not appreciate the importance of those topics.
ERP Expert Testimony
Gartner coined the term ERP in 1990. ERP systems originally dealt with functions that did not affect customers such as IT, accounting, and HR processes but as time went on, ERP systems evolved and began to take on functions such as CRM, e-commerce, supplier relations, and others. Today Gartner defines ERP as:
ERP applications automate and support a range of administrative and operational business processes across multiple industries, including line of business, customer-facing, administrative and the asset management aspects of an enterprise. ERP deployments are complex and expensive endeavors, and some organizations struggle to define the business benefits. Look for business benefits in four areas: a catalyst for business innovation, a platform for business process efficiency, a vehicle for process standardization, and IT cost savings. Most enterprises focus on the last two areas because they are the easiest to quantify; however, the first two areas often have the most significant impact on the enterprise.
The definition of what constitutes ERP continues to evolve and grow. I have had to rebut opposing ERP expert witnesses who attempted to claim that more recent technology and practices were available and accepted in years prior. For more information on this subject, please read my article entitled Enterprise CRM & ERP Disputes.
Please read on to the Technology Expert Articles for Attorneys.