STORAGETEK LOSES HUGE CASE AGAINST CISCO - A federal jury in California decided on Tuesday that Storage Technology’s patent infringement claims against Cisco Systems were invalid, ending a six-year-old suit in which StorageTek had sought hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.
Louisville, Colorado-based StorageTek, whose acquisition by Sun Microsystems was announced late last week, had originally sought damages of $3 billion when it filed the lawsuit in 1999.
StorageTek lowered that figure to $322 million by Monday’s closing arguments. After a three-week trial in San Francisco, the jury ruled that Cisco’s networking technology for speeding data flow across firewalls did not infringe on StorageTek’s patent and that the patent claims were invalid.
- Getting non-infringement and invalidity on all claims is a pretty rare thing.
Brenda Sandburg of the Recorder provides a blow-by blow of the case here. I found some of the comments by StorageTek's attorney (the illustrious Ernie Brooks) to be somewhat puzzling, and wondered what the intended effect was. For example:
Dressed in a dark suit with a pale orange shirt and an orange striped tie, Brooks opened by telling the jury it was troublesome to hear himself called an ambulance chaser by opposing counsel.
Brooks also questioned why Cisco had put forth three invalidity defenses.
"Why so many?" he asked. "Tell me which is the winner. Have some confidence."
(Don't you love the couture play-by-play? Nice.)
Why so many defenses? Because they're available! (And apparently persuasive). What an odd thing to say. Any company in its right mind would throw everything they had at a patent infringement claim, especially when the plaintiff is seeking $3bil in damages. This would be even more true when a case is taken on contingency. Although Mr. Brooks has a penchant for taking such cases, I don't know if there was a contingency factor involved in this case. God, I hope not. Losing 6 years of billed time is a pretty big pill to swallow . . .
BTW, in case you're curious what Cisco's counsel (Matt Powers) was wearing:
Wearing a dark suit with a white shirt and blue tie, Powers said when StorageTek filed suit the CEO at the time was "under extreme pressure to do something about StorageTek's financial performance" and the company had wanted to be acquired by Cisco.