Jury Deadlocks in Intellectual Ventures Trial Debut
A Delaware patent infringement trial pitting Intellectual Ventures against Motorola Mobility Inc. was billed as a referendum on the patent monetization business.
So much for that.
On Wednesday, after one day of deliberations, jurors informed U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson in Wilmington that they'd failed to reach consensus on whether Motorola infringed three IV patents covering smartphone technology, including the digital marketplace Google Play. Rather than encourage the jury to keep at it, Robinson declared a mistrial.
William Boice of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton represented Motorola. Elizabeth Day of Feinberg Day Alberti & Thompson represented IV.
"Mistrials are an occasional fact of life, and it is disappointing (for us, and probably also for Motorola) that the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict," IV's chief litigation counsel Melissa Finocchio said in a statement.
"We continue to believe this lawsuit was based on overbroad patent claims meant to tax innovation," Motorola said in a statement.
Robinson hasn't yet set a date for a retrial.
Bellevue, Wash.–based Intellectual Ventures is one of the top five U.S. patent owners in the country. It started as a patent defense fund for Silicon Valley tech heavyweights, but began filing patent lawsuits in 2006. Critics have called it a "patent troll," since it derives its revenue from patent licensing, rather than making products. IV says it fosters innovation because it invests in high-quality intellectual property and helps legitimate inventors monetize their research.
The recent trial, which kicked off on Jan. 24, was the first in IV's 14-year history. The trial also drew attention because Motorola's parent company, Google Inc., has been an outspoken advocate of patent reforms that would hamper so-called trolls. (Google Inc. announced on Jan. 29 that it's selling Motorola to Lenovo Group but keeping most of Motorola's patents). Tom Hals of Reuters called the trial "a bellwether on public opinion toward intellectual property."
With Wednesday's mistrial, the jury is still out. But maybe not for long: Intellectual Ventures is slated to go to trial against Motorola on separate patent infringement claims in April, and again in November.