Sitting out the latest trial between Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. seems to have worked out fine for patent litigator Charles Verhoeven of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. While his colleagues were representing Samsung without him, Verhoeven nabbed a $283 million plaintiffs verdict in a dustup between two satellite technology companies.
After an impressive two weeks of deliberation, a federal jury in San Diego returned a verdict on Thursday that Space Systems/Loral infringed on patents belonging to Quinn Emanuel client ViaSat Inc. Jurors also determined that SS/L violated nondisclosure agreements by sharing the technology at issue with one of ViaSat’s fiercest competitors, Hughes Communications Inc., a subsidiary of EchoStar Corporation (neither Hughes nor EchoStar were named as defendants). The jury ordered SS/L to pay ViaSat $181 million on the patent infringement claims and $102 million for breach of contract.
ViaSat and Hughes are designers of broadband Internet satellites. SS/L, which bills itself as “the world leader in commercial satellite manufacturing,” has manufactured equipment for both companies.
In a 2012 complaint, ViaSat alleged that it shared proprietary information with SS/L beginning in 2006, after hiring the company to help it build a cutting-edge satellite called Via-Sat 1. In June 2009, SS/L allegedly announced that it was building a similar satellite for Hughes, known as Jupiter. ViaSat argued that Jupiter was a clone of ViaSat-1. “The story we told was of one company trusting another company and that company betraying that trust,” Verhoeven said in an interview.
SS/L, which was represented by Susman Godfrey partners William Carmody and Jacob Buchdahl, argued that the satellite technology at issue was its own invention. “When it comes to satellites, Space Systems Loral was the teacher and ViaSat was the student,” Buchdahl said in his opening statement for SS/L, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
Quinn Emanuel’s Verhoeven is best known for defending patent suits brought against clients Google Inc. and Samsung. He was lead counsel for Samsung in 2012 when it lost a $1.05 billion verdict to Apple (that verdict has since been reduced to $929 million).
The latest trial between Apple and Samsung began on April 1 and is expected to wrap up on Monday. Quinn Emanuel partner William Price is lead trial counsel for Samsung.
Verhoeven obviously couldn’t handle both the Samsung trial and the ViaSat trial, since they overlapped and occurred in different corners of California. Verhoeven declined to comment on what factors led him to handle ViaSat’s trial rather than Samsung’s.
Susman Godfrey’s Buchdahl declined to comment.