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Apple Beats $30M Infringement Case Over LTE Wireless Broadband Patents

Apple store on June 29, 2014 in Frankfurt, Germany. Photo: Shutterstock

A Delaware federal jury Thursday found that Apple Inc. did not infringe two patents related to LTE wireless broadband communication technology, ending Evolved Wireless LLC's bid to recover up to $30 million in royalties from the Cupertino, California, tech giant.

Thursday's verdict followed seven days of trial in the case, targeting Apple's iPhone and iPad products, and dealt a blow to Evolved, which had filed similar suits against other cell phone companies over the same patents.

A federal judge in February denied Evolved's motion for summary judgment on the so-called '373 and '236 patents, cuing the case up for trial late last month. According to court documents, the patents cover communications between a mobile terminal and a base station for LTE wireless communication systems, the current standard in wireless communication systems, also known as 4G.

Evolved, a technology-innovation and patent-licensing company based in Austin, Texas, filed a series of similar suits against companies including HTC Corp., Lenovo Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., though the Apple suit was the first to be tried in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

According to court papers, LG acquired the patents from LG Electronics Inc. and added them to its portfolio for mobile telecommunications technology for solving "particular problems arising in wireless cellular communications between mobile devices and cellular networks."

Evolved countered Apple's arguments that its patents were invalid as obvious, saying that Apple's experts had failed to analyze prior art and didn't support critical aspects of their opinions with facts.

Senior U.S. Judge Joseph F. Bataillon, however, said Feb. 21 that there were "genuine issues of material fact," and denied Evolved's motion for summary judgment on invalidity, as well as Apple's cross-motion on its affirmative defenses.

"Resolution of this motion involves determination of the priority dates of both the asserted patents and the challenged references," he wrote in a 21-page memorandum order.

"Whether the evidence presented by the defendants rises to the level of 'clear and convincing' is a question for the jury," he said.

The case went to trial before Bataillon on March 26 in Wilmington and stretched into early week, with jury deliberations beginning Wednesday. According to the docket, jurors submitted two notes to the court before returning their verdict Thursday.

A redacted version of the verdict sheet showed that the panel found Apple had not literally infringed or infringed under the patent of equivalents by a preponderance of the evidence presented at trial.

An attorney for Apple referred a request for comment to Apple's press shop, which did not immediately respond Friday.

An attorney for Evolved did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the verdict.

Evolved was represented by Christopher K. Larus, Marla R. Butler, Ryan M. Schultz, Andrew D. Hedden, Benjamen C. Linden, Ryan E. Damberger and Anthony F. Schlehuber of Robins Kaplan in Minneapolis and Andrea L. Gathing of the firm's Mountain View, California, office. Brian E. Farnan and Michael J. Farnan of Farnan LLP and David A. Bilson of Phillips, Goldman, McLaughlin & Hall acted as Delaware-based counsel.

Apple was represented by Michael D. Jay, Bill Ward, Joseph E. Lasher and Nandan Padmanabhan of Boies Schiller Flexner and in Santa Monica, California, and Steven C. Holtzman in Oakland, California. David E. Moore, Bindu A. Palapura and Stephanie E. O'Byrne served as Delaware-based counsel.

The case was captioned Evolved Wireless v. Apple.