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Juries seemed less tolerant of intellectual property crimes in 2002, and they awarded more than $641 million to prove it. That’s the total for jury awards in patent, copyright and trade secret cases on <i>The National Law Journal</i>s Top 100 verdicts list, which more than doubles the comparable figure from the previous year. Only four IP cases made the list in 2001, compared with eight in 2002. They involved copying and selling Madonna’s songs, violating the patents on single-use camera technology and stealing trade secrets involving fiber-optic machinery designs. (Both <i>The National Law Journal</i> and IP magazine are published by American Lawyer Media.) “I think there is unquestionably an increased level of infringement over intellectual property,” says Matt Oppenheim, senior vice president for business and legal affairs at the Recording Industry Association of America. His organization made it onto the top-verdicts hit parade in 2002 with a $136 million award in a copyright infringement case tried in a Los Angeles federal court, <i>Atlantic Recording v. Media Group Inc</i>., CV 00-06122. “I think it’s easier and easier to infringe intellectual property these days because of an increase in technological development, and so more people are doing it,” adds Oppenheim. Juries, however, are also increasingly likely to punish such crimes by awarding hefty verdicts because of new perspectives on IP-related transgression, says the recording industry official. “I think when faced with the issues squarely, juries get it. Property is property, whether intellectual or physical,” says Oppenheim. The <i>Atlantic Recording</i> decision went against a CD maker in California that unlawfully copied and sold more than 1,500 songs by performers that included Madonna, James Brown and Elvis Presley. “I think that that jury understood the harm of music piracy,” says Oppenheim. “They said, ‘Well, wait a minute. They’re stealing music, which is no different from stealing televisions, or gas from the pump or somebody’s car.’” Convincing a jury that stealing music is wrong is one thing. But explaining trade secrets and confidentiality agreements involving a banking-systems design firm is quite another, says Los Angeles attorney Charles Verhoeven, who represented Bancorp Services in a breach-of-contract and misappropriation of trade secrets case against Hartford Life Insurance Co. In his case, a St. Louis federal jury awarded more than $118 million in damages against Hartford Life and a marketing subsidiary for misappropriating trade secrets and violating a confidentiality agreement with Bancorp. Verhoeven, a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, says a key to winning that case, <i>Bancorp Services v. Hartford Life Ins</i>., CV00070, was pitching a simple story to the jury. “It was a story of two guys who came up with this great idea and presented it in confidence to an insurance company. And the insurance company took the idea without paying for it,” says Verhoeven. He believes part of the reason that courts are seeing more IP lawsuits is that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has expanded the areas in which patents can be obtained. For example, business-method patents, which were not available 10 years ago, are now being awarded by the Patent Office. Verhoeven also thinks that IP verdicts yield big awards because the patents involved touch on massive volumes of business. “Often when you see these larger verdicts, it’s not that the juries have gone crazy,” says the IP litigator. “Instead we have these patents being litigated that cover a large amount of business.” <i>Tresa Baldas is a freelance writer in Detroit who reports for</i> The National Law Journal , <i>which is affiliated with IP magazine</i>.

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