Qualcomm Hit with $173M Award in ParkerVision Patent Case
A week after finding Qualcomm Inc. liable for infringing four patents, an Orlando jury on Thursday ordered the tech giant to pay wireless technology developer ParkerVision Inc. $173 million in damages.
The verdict, while undoubtedly large, was a disappointment for many ParkerVision investors who hoped the jury would grant the company's request for $432 million. Jurors also didn't find that Qualcomm willfully infringed the four disputed patents, closing off the possibility of treble damages. ParkerVision's shares on Nasdaq plunged by more than 50 percent in the wake of the decision. A big damages award was widely viewed as critical to company, which has posted multimillion-dollar losses over the past year.
"Winning $172 million is not a bad day in court," said Douglas Cawley, the McKool Smith partner who led at trial for ParkerVision. "I think jurors reviewed the evidence thoroughly and decided it was a reasonable amount."
The eight jurors, Cawley noted, included one with a master's degree in electrical engineering; one with a doctorate in nursing; one with an undergraduate computer science degree; and a lawyer.
Jacksonville-based ParkerVision's major asset is a portfolio of patents related to chip-based radio receivers. ParkerVision sued in 2011 alleging that Qualcomm had incorporated ParkerVision's wireless signal conversion technology into its smartphone chips. Qualcomm denied the claims and countersued for invalidity.
U.S. District Judge Roy Dalton split the trial into one phase to determine whether the patents were infringed and another on willfulness and damages. Trial began on Oct. 7; on Oct. 17, jurors found all four patents valid and infringed, prompting a spike in ParkerVision's stock price.
During the damages phase, ParkerVision's lawyers were hampered somewhat by the judge's decision to exclude key damages experts and testimony that formed the basis for the company's $432 million damages estimate. The excluded evidence including communications related to the company's negotiations with Qualcomm in the late 1990s. Cawley said that ParkerVision presented an alternative basis for arriving at its $432 million estimate.
According to ParkerVision, the judge still has to make a determination on ParkerVision's request for an injunction against Qualcomm.
Qualcomm relied on Cravath, Swaine & Moore's Keith Hummel for the bulk of its defense. As the case approached trial in May, the company brought in longtime counsel Cooley as cocounsel. Firm chair Stephen Neal led at trial, assisted by Timothy Teter. At press time Neal could not be reached, and Qualcomm hadn't indicated whether it would appeal.
According to ParkerVision officials cited in The Florida Times-Union, the company has spent $900,000 in legal fees since it lodged the case in 2011.