back to article Apple bats away yet another WiLAN patent sueball

Patent licensing firm WiLAN has lost another intellectual property case against Apple, this time related to LTE. WiLAN said it was reviewing the ruling from District Judge Dana Sabraw that threw out its case for two LTE patent infringement claims. The ruling has not yet been made public on the court’s website. Apple had moved …

  1. frank ly

    Why bother?

    “The Court is unable to find that the jury’s finding as to invalidity of claims 1 and 10 of the ’802 patent is supported by substantial evidence. Accordingly, the jury’s invalidity verdict cannot stand,”

    Why do they bother with a jury? If there was a fault of process or procedure, or if a jury member was shown to have acted improperly, or new evidence was discovered, then sure. What the court/judge seems to be saying is that the jury were just 'wrong'. So why not just have Judge Rodney Gilstrap decide all cases on his own?

    1. ThomH

      Re: Why bother?

      Judges decide issues of law, juries decide issues of fact. So e.g. if the law states that someone must do A, B, C to achieve crime Q but the prosecution presents only evidence of A and B — failing even to mention C — then the judge should decide that the jury cannot find a verdict on crime Q. Specifically what happens is that the judge phrases the questions the jury must answer. If the jury answers different questions then that has no effect.

      Like if they came back and said "the defendant is not guilty... because Ted did it!"; if Ted weren't a defendant then that wouldn't mean he'd been found guilty of the crime.

  2. Ted Treen

    Patent licensing firm WiLAN???

    Patent licensing firm??


    They're patent trolls.

  3. Efros

    I'm wondering if there's really any point whatsoever to a jury in this sort of contest. I wonder how much Apple's perceived halo has on the decisions made by juries in cases like this, especially when there have been licensing agreements made with other corps before.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      If the other companies have settled without any court action its utterly irrelevant to the judge in the case.

      Just because others have taken what they probably perceived as the cheap way out doesn't mean Apple or any other have to follow suit. Indeed - it appears for now they been been vindicated for not doing so.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Well, not necessarily vindicated if the court costs were more than what WiLAN was asking for. Though typically patent trolls hit up little companies first and then go to the big dogs later, so the earlier settlements may have been paving the way for hoping that the settlements would carry some weight with the jury and make them more likely to think the patents were valid.

        Though Apple may have incentive to go to court even if it costs more, to discourage the "let's sue those with the deepest pockets" method of litigation. If you get a reputation as "settle first, go to court only as a last resort" you'll find the trolls lining up outside your door for their settlements, even if they have nothing. Let them know they've got to beat you in court, and that should reduce the number of legal papers dropped off at 1 Infinite Loop if nothing else.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is how it works:

    Gangster: Give me your money

    Victim: No

    Gangster: Give me your money or I will shoot you.

    Victim: How much do you want?


    Patent Troll: Give me your money

    Victim: No

    Patent Troll: Give me your money or I will take you to court and bleed money from you and waste your time, and I might actually win, which will cost you mega-bucks more than I want.

    Victim: How much do you want?

  5. Mikerahl

    One option that might help in such cases is to adopt rules like in Quebec, where each side must pay their full legal costs regardless of who wins (i.e., the court cannot award costs of lawyers). Also in Quebec, taking contingency is generally not permitted. Mind you in the States, I doubt this would ever happen, and it has its own flaws, but at a minimum, requiring that each side pay for their lawyers (no contingency) for any patent case might be appropriate

  6. i like crisps

    Wouldn't it be better if all these disputes could be sorted out with...

    ...Rock, Paper, Sissors, Lizard, Spock?

    1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

      Re: Wouldn't it be better if all these disputes could be sorted out with...

      Does a Troll beat Spock?

      1. i like crisps

        Re: Wouldn't it be better if all these disputes could be sorted out with...

        Haven't played it for a while...but...i think the rule is 'Spock Phasers Troll' not 100% though.

  7. bonkers

    chapter and verse

    I didn't get much of a handle on the case from the brief article. Here for all is the core of the judgement:

    U.S. Patent No. RE37,802 "deals with the field of multiple access communications using spread spectrum modulation," according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

    Wi- Lan claimed in a 2011 lawsuit that Apple infringed on its '802 patent "by using certain industry standards in the field of wireless technology."

    A jury found in October 2013 that Apple was not infringing and that claims 1 and 10 of Wi-Lan's patent are invalid. The patent has 40 total claims.

    U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap vacated part of that unanimous verdict Thursday, saying the invalidity finding was not based on enough evidence.

    "The court is unable to find that the jury's finding as to invalidity of claims 1 and 10 of the '802 patent is supported by substantial evidence," Gilstrap wrote. "Accordingly, the jury's invalidity verdict cannot stand."

    Apple needed "to prove invalidity by clear and convincing evidence" but "no evidence was presented of complex multipliers in the prior art," the 16-page opinion states.

    Claim one of Wi-Lan's patent describes "a transceiver for transmitting a first stream of data symbols," and claim 10 explains "means for receiving a sequence of modulated data symbols."

    Though Gilstrap vacated the judgment as to the validity of claims 1 and 10, he denied all other aspects of Wi- Lan's motion for judgment as a matter of law.

    The actual patent is very interesting, to me it looks like a reasonable invention. However, it is in fact a 1998 submission that attempts to claim a 1992 priority date, and in true submarine fashion, only surfaced in 2002. Of course by this time similar developments of comms theory were already in operation and included within international standards. Whether these "working" systems actually use the means described, whether these means actually work in practice, or whether better methods have been found, I don't know. I'll have a look if there is some interest. It would be a good case to look at.

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