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Supreme Court Rules Against Cisco In Wireless Patent Case

Mark Haranas

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Cisco on Tuesday over a $64 million high-profile patent-infringement verdict involving a 2007 case around a patent for a wireless networking method.

Commil USA LLC was the holder of a patent for a method of implementing short-range wireless networks that would improve the implementation of a wireless network where multiple access points are needed. Cisco was sued by Commil, which alleged patent infringement, in 2007, and in April 2011 a jury awarded Commil $63.8 million in damages. A judge also added $10.3 million in interest.

In June 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit abandoned the 2011 judgment based on the networking giant's argument that it had a "good faith belief that the contested patent was invalid," as well as an "erroneous" instruction given to the jury regarding the infringement, according to Case Collard, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney who specializes in IT patent litigation.

[Related: Cisco Partners Take Notice As Meraki Founders Launch IoT Startup]

"Why this case is so interesting is because what Cisco is proposing would have essentially been a new defense to patent infringement to say, 'I didn't believe your patents were valid, so I'm not liable for induced infringement,' " said Collard, in an interview with CRN. "It was a very creative defense."

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court voted 6-2 to throw out the ruling by the appeals court.

Regarding the Supreme Court ruling Tuesday, Cisco released a statement to CRN: "Today's decision simply eliminates one of the many strong defenses available to Cisco and we look forward to the retrial of the case."

Collard expects a new trial that might last "quite awhile" -- possibly even years.

"Cisco's not done yet. I think they'll likely fight pretty hard," said Collard. "When you have a $64 million verdict, that's where you pull out all the stops."

PUBLISHED MAY 26, 2015

Mark Haranas

Mark Haranas is an assistant news editor and longtime journalist now covering cloud, multicloud, software, SaaS and channel partners at CRN. He speaks with world-renown CEOs and IT experts as well as covering breaking news and live events while also managing several CRN reporters. He can be reached at mharanas@thechannelcompany.com.

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