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Three patent infringement awards of $1 billion or more topped The National Law Journal affiliate VerdictSearch's Top 100 Verdicts of 2012. Intellectual property verdicts represented the largest category in number and dollar value last year. The category has contributed one verdict higher than $1 billion in each of the three prior years. But this year's list was notable in that three verdicts reached the $1 billion mark or higher, and all of them came out of high-stakes trials.The billion-dollar awards dominated this year's total a reflection of how pervasive technology has become in the nation's economy, said Van Beckwith, a Dallas senior partner at Baker Botts, which had two successful patent infringement verdicts on the list last year. "Much of that technology is technology we all use every day," he said. "Many of these products are wildly popular. If you have infringement, and it goes against you with a jury, the numbers can be huge."
Products liability verdicts continued their downward spiral, falling 73 percent, while medical malpractice verdicts jumped a startling 140 percent, with 14 awards on the list second only to intellectual property in number. Some outlier verdicts also boosted dollar totals in fraud, nursing home abuse and dram-shop cases.
$1 BILLION AND COUNTING…
To be sure, verdicts worth billions aren't new to the list. The largest verdicts in 2011 were for $150.4 billion, $2.3 billion and $1.5 billion. But the first two cases were outliers since the defendants were not represented at trial.
In intellectual property last year, the total dollar amount of nearly $4.4 billion was significantly more than the value of verdicts in other areas. It was 17 percent less than in 2011, but that year's total was driven by the $2.3 billion outlier verdict. Without that case, intellectual property verdicts would have been up by more than 45 percent from 2011.
At No. 1 was Carnegie Mellon University's nearly $1.17 billion award on December 26 against Marvell Technology Group Ltd. The case, in federal court in Pittsburgh, revolved around two patents related to integrated circuit technology. The jury also found that Marvell willfully infringed, so Carnegie Mellon has sought to triple the damages. Carnegie Mellon's attorneys, K&L Gates partners Douglas Greenswag in Seattle and Patrick McElhinny in Pittsburgh, declined to comment. At the time of the verdict, Carnegie Mellon said it "did not undertake this suit lightly and once we undertook it we did not pursue it lightly."
Read the full story in The National Law Journal.
This article originally appeared in The National Law Journal under the headline “A banner year for billion-dollar patent verdicts.”