Federal justices axe $85M patent verdict against Google

By David Yates | Apr 21, 2016

Federal justices recently overturned an $85 million civil verdict against Google, finding that the tech giant did not infringe a two-decade old patent allegedly tied to push notifications on Android phones.

In 2011, SimpleAir filed suit against Google in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Texas, the top spot for patent litigation in the nation, alleging the company’s Cloud Messenger services infringed U.S. Patent 7,035,914, issued in 1996.

At trial, a jury concluded all claims were valid and found Google’s Cloud Messenger services infringed the ‘914 patent. A separate trial on damages was then held, resulting in an $85 million award to SimpleAir, court records show.

Google argued the patent was invalid, filing motions for judgment as a matter of law, which were rejected by Judge Rodney Gilstrap.

On appeal, Google contended it did not infringe the ‘914 patent under the construction of a “data channel,” court records show.

On April 1 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit determined the district court erred in its constructions of “a data channel” and “whether said devices are online or offline from a data channel associated with each device,” concluding no jury could find infringement under the correct constructions.

“We therefore vacate the jury verdicts and associated district court orders and judgments, and remand with instructions to enter judgment of non-infringement in favor of Google,” the opinion states.

SimpleAir, a “patent troll” owned by the inventor of the ‘914 patent, used its “push notification” patents to file “waves of lawsuits” against companies like CBS, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple, according to an arstechnica.com article.

While the other defendants settled, only Google took the case to a jury, the article states.

Eastern District case No. 2:11-cv-00416-JRG

Federal Circuit case No. 2015-1251

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