Parkervision's $172M Patent Verdict Chucked


     JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (CN) - "Vague" testimony given by an expert for Parkervision is fatal to the chip designer's $172 million patent-infringement against Qualcomm, a federal judge ruled.
     U.S. District Judge Roy Dalton explained that "the complex technology at issue ... concerns methods and devices for down-converting electromagnetic (radio frequency) signals by 'energy sampling.'" (Parentheses in original.)
     "By using the same components previously used to down-convert modulated high-frequency signals by 'voltage sampling' (switches, capacitors, and resistors), energy sampling down-converts a modulated high frequency signal by altering the size of the capacitor, the duration that the switch is closed, the impedance of the resistors, and the value of the load," Dalton added.
     Parkvision, a wireless chip designer, received at least six related patents for such devices in the early 1990s and approached Qualcomm in 1998 to license the invention. Unable to reach an agreement, however, the companies went their separate ways.
     More than a decade later, Parkervision filed the suit at issue, claiming that Qualcomm has been directly and indirectly infringing the claims of Parkervision's patents since 2006. It says Qualcomm uses energy sampling in the integrated circuits of various receiver and transceiver products that it sells to manufacturers that then incorporate the products in smartphones and other mobile communication devices sold and used in the United States.
     Qualcomm denied it infringed on any Parkvision patents, which it said are invalid based on anticipation.
     A federal jury disagreed after an October 2013 trial, however, finding that San Diego-based Qualcomm directly and indirectly infringed on Parkvision's patents.
     The jury awarded Parkervision $172.7 million in damages, but Judge Dalton found Friday that Qualcomm deserves a new trial regarding noninfringement.
     Dalton took particular issue with the testimony of Parkervision's retained infringement expert, Dr. Paul Prucnal, finding that his "concessions during cross-examination as well as his direct testimony are fatal to Parkervision's infringement case."
     The 37-page ruling describes Prucnal's direct and redirect testimony as "notably vague" on certain issues, and says that testimony by David Sorrells, Parkervision's chief technology officer and a named inventor of the patents, cannot save the jury's verdict.
     "There is no dispute that Mr. Sorrells' opinions - like those of Dr. Prucnal - were not based on appropriate testing or simulations."
     Dalton then cited evidence that he said "buttresses the court's conclusion as to the inadequacy of Mr. Sorrells' testimony."
     "Given the technology at issue, the court finds that Mr. Sorrells' superficial analysis is an insufficient evidentiary basis for the jury's infringement verdict in this action," the decision states.
     "While the court is loath to overturn the jury's verdict, on this record, it is the court's only choice," Dalton added. "Accordingly, the court finds that Qualcomm's motion [for judgment as a matter of law] is due to be granted. In the alternative, the court finds that a new trial on infringement is required."
     Dalton directed the clerk to enter a judgment in favor of Qualcomm and against Parkvision, and to close this case.