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James Batchelder had such a complex patent case that not even the judge fully understood the technology. So for six days in January, Batchelder, a partner at Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder, his opposing counsel and a few experts holed up with the judge in his chamber for a tech tutorial. “It was almost like a judge taking depositions,” Batchelder said. “The chance to interact that directly about the issues that lay at the heart of the case is very rare.” The lawsuit, GTE Wireless Inc. v. Qualcomm Inc., 99-2173, settled last month after nearly four years of wrangling. GTE accused Batchelder’s client, Qualcomm, of infringing its patent on technology that controls how mobile phones select a carrier’s network when starting a call. Terms of the settlement were confidential, but each side effectively dropped its claims. James Smith, the Dewey Ballantine partner in Austin, Texas, who represented GTE, didn’t return a call. Batchelder said he got a call from U.S. District Judge Rudi Brewster of the Southern District of California after he filed a motion for summary judgment. After wading through a deep stack of documents, the judge asked a lawyer and an expert witness from each side to field his questions, Batchelder said. The tutorial was supposed to last one session, but became a six-day affair. Batchelder said he was only too happy to oblige when Brewster kept asking for more time at the end of each day. “Getting one day of a federal judge’s time is valuable,” Batchelder said. The tutorials, he said, were full workdays and not just a few hours sandwiched into other matters. This isn’t the first time a judge has asked Batchelder for a few pointers on the technical aspects of a piece of litigation. The Cupertino-based intellectual property litigator also had a hand in a dispute between client Sun Microsystems Inc. and Microsoft Corp. over the Java programming language. To prepare for that court fight, U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte asked for two-hour tutorials from each side. Batchelder predicts the opportunities to educate judges on the technology behind IP disputes are bound to become more commonplace. “More and more judges are asking to spend time with counsel dealing with technical issues,” Batchelder said. “It’s being more and more widely recognized as a short-term investment, but an efficient one.”

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