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A trial over fabricated evidence in a high-stakes patent dispute appears more likely after a defendant reneged on a plea deal at the last minute Monday. Amr Mohsen and his brother, Aly Mohsen, were expected to enter a plea to a 19-count indictment for fabricating parts of a notebook, allegedly to bolster Aptix Corp.’s position in a dispute with Quickturn Design Systems over hardware-emulation technology. But Amr Mohsen, founder of Aptix, had a last-minute change of heart that may force not only his case to trial, but that of his brother as well. Prosecutors told U.S. District Judge William Alsup on Monday that if one defendant stands trial, both will. “It was a package deal,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin Harris told Alsup. Defense attorney John Williams told a somewhat surprised Alsup that his client no longer wished to go forward with the deal. He then asked Alsup for time to allow his client to consult another lawyer about the wisdom of his decision. A trial had been set for Jan. 26, but Alsup rescheduled it for Feb. 17 after clearing the courtroom to consult with the attorneys. Afterward, Williams was circumspect about whether he would still be defending Mohsen in February. “I have no idea,” said the Manchester, Williams & Seibert lawyer. Harris expressed concern that a change of attorney could lead to a lengthy delay, possibly six months or more. Meanwhile, a lawyer for Aly Mohsen said his client is still willing to accept a plea and wants to proceed. “We are fully prepared to uphold this agreement,” Berliner Cohen lawyer Frank Ubhaus told Alsup. The government apparently expected as much early Monday. Harris told Alsup that Amr Mohsen had actually signed the agreement. It was Alsup himself who triggered the prosecution. During discovery in the patent dispute, defense lawyers for Quickturn received two versions of the engineering notebook at the heart of the case — one from Aptix and another from a third party. The lawyers pointed out discrepancies to Alsup. But the day before the notebook was to have been turned over for forensic examination, Amr Mohsen claimed it had been stolen and that portions were later mailed back to him. But the U.S. attorney’s office alleges that the theft never took place. In 2001, Alsup declared in a written order that a fraud had been perpetrated on the court, leading to a two-year investigation by federal authorities.

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