A Dallas federal jury has found that two tech companies have infringed on each other’s patents, but the larger company in the legal battle, North Carolina-based CommScope, got the short end of the stick.
After a day and a half of deliberation, two men and five women hit CommScope last Wednesday with $9 million for infringing on two patents owned by California-based Dali Wireless, which makes wireless systems designed to improve cellular communications inside buildings.
That same jury also ruled Dali infringed five of Commscope’s older patents related to digital distributed antenna systems (DAS). Dali, however, was ordered to pay $1.98 million, which is less than a third fo what jurors told CommScope to cough up.
Predictably, both sides consider the verdict a win.
“We are very pleased that the jury recognized and protected the value of Dali Wireless’ intellectual property,” said Dallas lawyer Mark Strachan of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings. “If this were a football game, then Dali Wireless scored a touchdown and a field goal, and CommScope had only a field goal. As time ran out, Dali Wireless walked away with the trophy.”
Seattle Dorsey & Whitney lawyer Chris Leffler, who also represented Dali at trial, said “the difference in the awards underscores the advantage of Dali Wireless’ innovative technology over CommScope’s older technology.”
CommScope said in a statement that the “ruling against Dali Wireless confirms the value and strength of CommScope’s digital DAS patent portfolio.”
“The favorable ruling for our DAS patents is a win for CommScope and our customers,” said Matt Melester, CommScope’s senior vice president of the Office of the CTO. “We will continue to protect and defend CommScope’s intellectual property while delivering innovative products and solutions to help our customers succeed in their markets.”
Of the two Dali patents that were infringed, CommScope said, one is related to a discontinued CommScope product and the second patent is currently under Inter Partes review with the Patent and Trial Appeal Board, which has already indicated in a preliminary ruling that the claims are likely to be found invalid. The PTAB’s decision is expected in August.
“None of the infringement was found to be willful and CommScope believes that there are outstanding legal issues that will bar Dali from any recovery of damages in this case,” the company statement said.
In its own company statement, Dali said the CommScope patents that the jury found Dali to be liable for infringing upon “will soon expire.”
The legal battle arose in 2015 after Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport chose Dali over CommScope to install distributed antenna systems in the airport. CommScope filed suit against Dali in early 2016 claiming the competitor had infringed on its patents. Dali countersued, claiming it was CommScope who had done the infringement.
The two-week jury trial took an unusual turn June 17 when gunman Brian Isaack Clyde opened fire outside the Earle Cabell Federal Building. Though no one but the shooter was hurt, the incident caused the courthouse to go on lockdown June 17 and it remained closed the next day.
Chief U.S. District Judge Barbara Lynn of the Northern District of Texas, who presided over the trial, got creative and arranged for closing arguments, which occurred June 18, to take place at SMU Dedman School of Law’s moot courtroom. On the day of the shooting, she held the jury charge conference in her home.
In addition to Strachan and Leffler, Dali’s legal team included Bradley Arant partner Dick Sayles in Dallas and Stefan Szpajda, Madeline Hepler, Ryan Meyer and David Tseng from Dorsey & Whitney’s Seattle office.
CommScope’s legal team included Dallas lawyer Daniel Sheehan and Minneapolis lawyers Philip Caspers, Timothy Lindquist, Samuel Hamer and William Bullard of Carlson, Caspers, Vandenburgh, Lindquist & Shuman.