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Cisco Wins Patent Case Regarding WiFi Technology

Five years after a jury awarded Commil USA $64 million in the case, an appeals court tosses out the verdict and rules in favor of Cisco.

court case

Cisco Systems got some good holiday-season news this week when a federal appeals court threw out a $64 million judgment against it in a patent-infringement case that has been moving through the system for eight years and even reached the Supreme Court earlier this year.

On Dec. 28, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled that a 2011 jury verdict against Cisco was not supported by the evidence brought by Texas-based Commil USA, which contended that the networking giant infringed on a WiFi patent that helps expand wireless signals over a large area and that requires multiple access points.

In its six-page decision, the three-judge court ruled that the U.S. District Court jury's verdict four years ago was not supported by the evidence Commil officials presented during the trial or by any additional arguments the company has made during the court proceedings in the years following the verdict.

"Because we find none of Commil's other arguments persuasive, we conclude that substantial evidence does not support the jury's necessary finding that Cisco's devices, when used, perform the 'running' step of the claims," the judges wrote in their ruling. "Because this conclusion precludes liability under either of Commil's direct or inducement theories, we reverse the judgment of the district court."

In a statement to Reuters, Cisco General Counsel Mark Chandler applauded the ruling, saying that "the patent never had anything to do with our products, and the millions of dollars spent defending this unmeritorious suit are a travesty."

The case had taken a circuitous route through the court system over the past eight years. Commil reportedly had bought the patent in question in 2007 from a company in Israel, and then sued Cisco for infringing on it by inducing customers to use the products that violated the patent. In 2011, a jury agreed with Commil, awarding the company almost $64 million in damages.

Two years later, the Federal Circuit, which specializes in patent cases, ordered a new trial after determining that Cisco should have been able to argue that Commil's patent was not valid. The Supreme Court in May disagreed, and sent the case back to the Federal Circuit.

In their ruling Dec. 28, the judges said that when they previously heard arguments in the case, they had not addressed other arguments Cisco had made regarding the infringement allegations.