Sony hit with $18.5 million verdict in patent infringement suit over music chip technology

By Marilyn Tennissen | Nov 20, 2008

MARSHALL, Texas -- The Sony Corp. was hit with an $18.5 million verdict recently when a Texas jury determined it had infringed on a patent held by Agere Systems.

Agere is a technology company that owns and licenses patents in the semiconductor, wireless communications, audio, optical electronics and other fields. In a suit filed March 1, 2006, in federal court in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas, Agere alleged it owned the rights to U.S. Patent No. 5,670,730.

The '730 Patent, for a Data Protocol and Method for Segmenting Memory for a Music Chip, was issued Sept. 23, 1997, to Anthony James Grewe and Kevin Alan Shelby and assigned to Agere.

Agere alleged Sony was infringing the '730 Patent through various products including Sony Walkman models, Sony PlayStation Portable and Sony Memory Stick Duo.

A jury trial began Nov. 13 in Magistrate Judge Charles Everingham's courtroom and on Monday, Nov. 17, the jury found that Sony had literally infringed and induced others to infringe the '730 Patent.

Jurors also determined there was clear and convincing evidence that the infringement was willful.

They calculated a reasonable royalty to compensate Agere at $18.5 million.

The original lawsuit alleged infringement of eight patents, but many were settled, some were dismissed after the plaintiff dropped the claim and some were dismissed because the patent had been reassigned to another party after the suit was filed.

Melvin Wilcox III of Yarbrough Wilcox PLLC in Tyler represented Sony. Calvin Capshaw of Brown McCarroll LLP in Longview represented Agere.

Case No. 2:06-cv-079-CE

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