The jury gave a glazed look as defense attorneys for Honeywell Inc. used everything from cartoons to science fair-style demonstrations to explain that the Minneapolis-based company had not infringed on a competitor’s patent.

But grasping the intricacies of ring laser gyro mirror coating processes, an optical film used to reflect laser beams in aircraft and missile guidance systems, is no easy task. The three-month trial between Litton Systems and Honeywell ended in Los Angeles federal court in 1993. In all, 57 witnesses were called and thousands of exhibits were shown. But when the jury deliberated in Litton Systems Inc. v. Honeywell Inc., 90-0093, Honeywell was on the hook for $1.2 billion — the largest infringement verdict in U.S. patent history.