Jury Rejects Qualcomm Defense in $500 Million Patent Row
Wireless technology developer ParkerVision Inc. and its anxious investors got some good news on Thursday, when a jury in Jacksonville determined that tech giant Qualcomm Inc. infringed the company's patents for converting wireless signals. Now it's up to ParkerVision's lawyers at McKool Smith to persuade jurors to award the full $500 million in damages that the company is seeking.
The case stems from failed licensing negotiations between Qualcomm and ParkerVision in the late 1990s over patents related to radio-frequency receivers and converting electromagnetic signals. After reverse-engineering Qualcomm's chips and determining that they employed technology similar to its patents, ParkerVision sued Qualcomm in July 2011, tapping McKool Smith's Douglas Cawley.
Qualcomm, represented by Cravath, Swaine & Moore's Keith Hummel, filed a counterclaim of invalidity. As the case approached trial in May, Qualcomm brought in longtime counsel Cooley as cocounsel. Firm chair Stephen Neal led at trial, assisted by Timothy Teter. (Jacksonsville's Smith Hulsey & Busey is local counsel to ParkerVision; Bedell, Dittmar, Devault, Pillans & Coxe is Qualcomm's local counsel.)
Qualcomm convinced U.S. District Judge Roy Dalton to split the trial into an infringement and a damages phase. The first phase began on Oct. 7, with each side restricted to 20 hours of testimony. ParkerVision investors have been glued to the case, keeping the company's share price gyrating all week until Nasdaq finally halted trading Thursday morning.
At trial Cooley's legal team called an engineer who demonstrated how the technology worked and how it reflected the patents at issue. They also showed jurors internal Qualcomm communications that appeared to establish that its engineers and executives recognized the contribution of ParkerVision's wireless technology. Qualcomm didn't call any company representatives or infringement experts to rebut ParkerVision's expert.
Two days after closing statements, jurors found all four patents valid and infringed in Thursday's verdict. The damages phase began Thursday afternoon and is expected to last till early next week. Neither side was available for comment.
In a prepared statement, ParkerVision CEO Jeffrey Parker said the company was "extremely pleased with the jury's verdict in this case and we look forward to presenting our damages and willfulness arguments over the coming days." But ParkerVision's lawyers will be hampered somewhat in this phase: Judge Dalton excluded key damages experts and testimony that formed the basis for ParkerVision's $500 million damages estimate, including communications related to the company's negotiations with Qualcomm.
Cooley has long represented Qualcomm for its major patent litigation. Last year, as we reported, the firm won a case against a small GPS technology developer in federal district court in San Diego with some of the same trial team.
McKool Smith's Cawley, meanwhile, has won some giant patent verdicts in the past year, including a $368 million jury verdict in a case for client VirnetX against Apple Inc.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Joshua Budwin as a lawyer for Qualcomm at Cooley. In fact, Budwin is an associate at McKool Smith representing ParkerVision. We regret the error.