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James Batchelder had such a complex patent case that not even the presiding U.S. district judge fully understood the technology. So for six days early this year, Batchelder, a partner at Cupertino, Calif.’s 24-lawyer 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 says. “The chance to interact that directly about the issues that lay at the heart of the case is very rare.” The suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, GTE Wireless Inc. v. Qualcomm Inc., settled this July 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 for comment. After filing a motion for summary judgment, Batchelder says he got a call from U.S. District Judge Rudi Brewster. 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 says. The tutorial was supposed to last one session, but became a six-day affair. Batchelder says 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 says. The tutorials, he explains, were full workdays and not just a few hours sandwiched between 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 says. “It’s being more and more widely recognized as a short-term investment, but an efficient one.” Renee Deger is a senior reporter at The Recorder, the American Lawyer Media newspaper in San Francisco.

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