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Sometimes You Win And Sometimes You Lose And Sometimes You Win ($173 Million) And Still Lose

In ParkerVision Inc. v. Qualcomm Inc., the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, snatched ParkerVision's victory after a patent infringement jury trial in Jacksonville, Florida, turning it into a defeat. In 2011, ParkerVision filed that lawsuit, claiming Qualcomm infringed four of its patents covering conversion of electromagnetic signals from higher to lower frequencies. Qualcomm denied using the technology described in the claims of ParkerVision's patents, claiming it used its own technology. It also countersued, claiming ParkerVision's patents were invalid.

The jury had found ParkerVision's patents valid and infringed and awarded it $173 million.

But U.S. District Judge Roy B. Dalton overturned the jury's verdict. ParkerVision’s evidence, he said, was based on speculation of what Qualcomm chips do. He found there was no infringement because ParkerVision offered “an insufficient evidentiary basis for the jury’s infringement verdict in this action.”

On July 31, 2015, the three judge panel of the Federal Circuit appeals court unanimously agreed: ParkerVision's trial expert provided internally inconsistent opinions on how the Qualcomm devices work and ParkerVision made no attempt to reconcile the inconsistency. Adding insult to injury, the appeals court concluded most of ParkerVision's patent claims are invalid for anticipation, leaving ParkerVision with only one patent and one valid claim ("claims" are the written description of the patented invention). It found ParkerVision had failed to show how a "reasonable jury" could find those patent claims were not anticipated.

In patent law, anticipation is the prior invention or disclosure of a claimed invention by another, or the inventor's own disclosure of the invention by publication, sale, or offer to sell prior to filing an application for a patent. If anticipated, a patent applicant will not be awarded a patent. If the Patent Office has already issued the patent, it can later be cancelled.

Fulwider Patton's Len Messenger noted, "Due to their technical nature and the need for expert witnesses, lawsuits for infringement of U.S. patents can be one of the most expensive types of litigation. And sometimes, after incurring that expense, you can win and still lose."

Although ParkerVision is down after losing this appeal, it is not "out." A second patent infringement suit against Qualcomm and its customer, HTC, involving other ParkerVision patents on how mobile devices send information to a cell tower, remains pending.

ParkerVision's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Jeffrey Parker, commented, "We are highly disappointed with the appellate court's decision both with regard to infringement and validity of certain of our patent claims. Despite this setback, we will consider further options on appeal, and will move forward in our second infringement case against Qualcomm, HTC and Samsung."