Saturday, September 27, 2014

(BN) Apple Seeks to Defeat Wi-Lan’s Patent Claims Before Trial

(Bloomberg ) Apple Inc. (AAPL) asked a federal judge to rule that its iPhones and iPads don't infringe two patents owned by Wi-Lan Inc. (WIN) ahead of a trial scheduled in November on the Canadian technology licensor's claims.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego didn't issue a decision at a hearing today on Apple's request. The judge told the companies' lawyers he will issue a ruling in two to three weeks.

Today's hearing comes almost a year after Wi-Lan lost a jury trial in Texas in which it sought $248 million in royalties from Apple for alleged infringement of another one of its patents. The companies have been in court in California, Florida and Texas for seven years over Wi-Lan's claims.

Apple, which this month unveiled its new, larger-screen iPhone models, has said in court filings that Wi-Lan has a history of asserting patents in bad faith and hasn't prevailed against Apple in any of the five lawsuits it has brought so far, the latest in June.

If Sabraw finds that Apple's products don't infringe the two Wi-Lan patents, the case will effectively end before it goes to trial. Apple said the patented technology pertains to prioritizing connections for allocating bandwidth and isn't relevant to its products because they don't have multiple connections that require prioritizing.

Wi-Lan Attorney

Dirk Thomas, an attorney for Wi-Lan, told the judge that Apple is deliberately misconstruing the specifics of the patents in order to avoid allegations of infringement.

"There is no requirement for multiple connections," Thomas said at today's hearing.

Ottawa-based Wi-Lan, which gets all its revenue from licenses for its patents, fell 23 percent the day after it lost the Texas verdict last year.

In that case, the judge in March threw out the jury's findings that two Wi-Lan patent claims weren't valid and declined to throw out the non-infringement verdict. Wi-Lan appealed in April.

The company said after that loss that it would explore "strategic alternatives" including a sale of the company.

The case is Wi-Lan USA Inc. v. Apple Inc., 13-cv-00798, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).

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