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Juries appeared to have grown less tolerant of intellectual property crimes last year, and they voted more than $641 million to prove it. That’s how much juries awarded in patent, copyright and trade secret cases on The National Law Journal‘s Top 100 verdicts list, more than double the comparable amount last year. In 2001, just four intellectual property cases made the list. Last year saw eight. They involved copying and selling Madonna’s songs, violating the patents on single-use camera technology and stealing trade secrets involving fiber-optic machinery designs. “I think that there is unquestionably an increased level of infringement over intellectual property,” said Matt Oppenheim, a lawyer and senior vice president for business and legal affairs for the Recording Industry Association of America. His organization won a $136.3 million award in a copyright infringement case last year. Atlantic Recording v. Media Group Inc., No. CV 00-06122 (C.D. Calif.). “I think it’s easier and easier to infringe intellectual property these days because of an increase in technological development, and so more people are doing it,” Oppenheim said. A NEW PERSPECTIVE But, he added, juries are also more likely now to punish such crimes with hefty fines because they have a new perspective on intellectual property crimes. “I think when faced with the issues squarely, juries get it. Property is property, whether intellectual or physical,” Oppenheim said. And in the association’s case, it was music that was being stolen. The decision in Atlantic Recording was against a California compact disc maker that copied and sold more than 1,500 songs of performers such as Madonna, James Brown and Elvis Presley. “I think that that jury understood the harm of music piracy,” Oppenheim said. “They said, ‘Well, wait a minute. Property is property. They’re stealing music, which is no different from stealing televisions, or gas from the pump or somebody’s car.’” Convincing a jury that stealing music is wrong is one thing. But explaining trade secrets and confidentiality agreements involving a banking-systems design firm is another, said attorney Charles K. Verhoeven, who represented Bancorp Services in a breach-of-contract and misappropriation of trade secrets case against Hartford Life Insurance Co. In his case, a St. Louis federal jury in March awarded $118.3 million in damages against Hartford Life and a marketing subsidiary for misappropriating trade secrets and violating a confidentiality agreement with Bancorp. Bancorp Services v. Hartford Life Ins., No. 4:00-CV00070 (E.D. Mo.). A SIMPLE STORY Verhoeven of Los Angeles’ Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges said a key to winning that case was pitching a simple story to the jury. “It was a story of two guys who came up with this great idea and presented it in confidence to an insurance company. And the insurance company took the idea without paying for it,” Verhoeven said. Verhoeven believes part of the reason that courts are seeing more IP lawsuits is that the patent office has expanded the areas in which patents can be obtained. For example, he said, people now can get a business-method patent, which wasn’t available 10 years ago. He said there also are questions over how much scrutiny is being applied at the patent office to patent applications. Verhoeven also agrees that IP verdicts yield big awards because the patents involved cover a large amount of business. “Oftentimes when you see these larger verdicts, it’s not the juries have gone crazy, but rather we have these patents being litigated that cover a large amount of business,” he said.

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