Patent Verdict Favors Verizon Wireless, Other Carriers And Novatel Wireless

BASKING RIDGE, NJ — A federal jury last week found that Verizon Wireless, other wireless carriers and Novatel Wireless, in offering high-tech Internet access modem cards, did not infringe a patent that was filed 19 years ago and focused on automatic dialing.

The patent suit was brought by DNT LLC, a unit of Acacia Research Corp., earlier this year in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Richmond.

The jury deliberated less than two hours in reaching their unanimous verdict that the modem data cards sold by the wireless carriers did not infringe DNT’s patent. That patent, which was originally filed in 1990, envisioned an improved auto-dialer for use on touch-tone phones. DNT had sought over $170 million in damages for the alleged infringement.

“This was a clear attempt to bootstrap a high-tech wireless service into an old technology patent meant for something else, in the hopes of getting wireless carriers to capitulate to their demands rather than going through the risk and expense of litigation,” said Steven E. Zipperstein, vice president and general counsel for Verizon Wireless. “Clearly, the jury saw through these wildly exaggerated patent claims. Verizon Wireless will continue to fight these wrongful suits rather than give in because the claims are false and because, ultimately, these kinds of lawsuits needlessly and wrongfully add to our cost of doing business and the cost to wireless consumers.”

In addition to finding that there was no patent infringement, the jury found that DNT’s patent claims were invalid for three separate reasons. Specifically, the jury found that the patent lacked an adequate written description of the claimed invention; that the patent did not enable someone to make and use the claimed invention; and that the claimed invention would have been obvious as of the date of the patent application.

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