Apple appeals $21 M patent infringement judgment

By Marilyn Tennissen | Dec 10, 2009

After Apple was hit with an additional $2.7 million in interest on a $19 million jury verdict in a patent infringement suit, the computer giant has immediately filed a formal appeal.

OPTi Inc., a patent holding company, was awarded $19 million for reasonable royalties in April after a federal jury in Marshall found that Apple infringed OPTi's U.S. Patent No. 6,405,291.

On Dec. 4, OPTi announced it would also receive $2.7 million in pre-judgment interest, bringing the total cost to Apple to $21.7 million.

Apple argued that the '291 Patent was invalid through prior art and the obviousness of the techniques involved. The patent describes a system for predictive snooping of cache memory that helps transfer information between a processor, its memory and other elements of a computer.

However the jury for the Eastern District of Texas found that Apple did infringe the '291 Patent, and did so willfully.

After the initial $19 million award for reasonable royalties, OPTi then asked for an additional $12.7 million in enhanced damages.

Apple filed a number of motions requesting either a judgement as a matter of law or a new trial regarding the patent's validity, Apple's willfulness of infringement and the amount of the jury award.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Everingham granted Apple's motion for judgment as a matter of law that it did not willfully infringe the '291 Patent. However, Apple's motions regarding validity and jury award amount were denied.

Since Everingham determined as a matter of law that Apple did not willfully infringe the patent, he denied OPTi's motion for enhanced damages.

But the judge upheld the jury's guilty verdict and $19 million award and entered final judgment against Apple, along with an additional $2.7 million in interest.

Apple filed its appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit the next day.

OPTi has similar suits pending against other companies, and will be watching the Apple appeal to determine its future actions.

"The final outcome of the Apple case itself will play a role in the company's strategy for pursuing its patent infringement claims and the company's ability to realize licensing revenue from its Predictive Snoop patents will be significantly affected if the final outcome of the litigation is not successful," OPTi said in a press release.

According to an Apple Insider article, Apple reported in October that it was defending itself in at least 47 patent infringement cases, 27 of which had been filed during the fiscal year.

The company said that responding to claims, regardless of merit, consumes "significant time and expense."

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