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In the 1980s, Melbourne, Fla.-based Harris Corp. was awarded two patents for infrastructure equipment used in cellular phone systems. The technology takes a signal from a mobile phone and assigns it to a channel, which then communicates with a network. One patent covered digital cellular technology; the other, analog. In 1995, Harris entered into a joint venture with MLMC Ltd. to pursue licensing opportunities and initiate litigation over the patents. MLMC sued Verizon Wireless, Alltel Corp., Airtouch Corp., GT Wireless and other cellphone firms, charging that they had infringed on the patents by purchasing and using equipment manufactured by Lucent Technologies Inc. The plaintiff sued the end users, not Lucent. Before trial, Judge Sue Robinson of the U.S. District Court in the District of Delaware summarily dismissed the claim over the digital patent, leaving only the analog patent at issue. The defendants denied infringement, contending that the Harris system was different from the traditional approach developed by Bell Labs, which involved the use of a base station controller. The Harris system eliminated the base station controller. To prove their point, the defendants deposed the Harris inventors, who all said that they had eliminated the base station controller. The defense also contended that the patent was invalid because Harris had marketed and sold the technology before it applied for the patent. MLMC wanted $271 million in royalties and an injunction. But on Dec. 4, a Delaware jury found no infringement and found the Harris patent invalid. The plaintiff will move for a ruling to set aside the verdict, for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict on invalidity and for a ruling of infringement as a matter of law. The plaintiff also will appeal the summary judgment finding. Plaintiff’s attorneys: Randy McClanahan, McClanahan & Clearman, Houston; Ed Goldstein and Ted Polasek, Goldstein & Polasek, Houston; Steven Margolin, Ashby & Geddes, Wilmington, Del. Defense attorneys: John M. Desmarais, Robert Appleby, Edward Donovan and Alan Kellman, Kirkland & Ellis, New York; Josy Ingersoll, Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, Wilmington

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