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Two Atlanta attorneys will see the fruits of three years of their labor Friday when Hewlett-Packard pays software maker Intergraph Corp. $141 million to settle a patent infringement suit over microprocessor technology. Hewlett-Packard is the final of three computer makers named in the suit, filed in December 2002 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, to settle with Intergraph. The suit, litigated by Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, resulted in a total settlement of $386 million for the company, including prior payments from Dell Inc. and Gateway Inc. A. James Anderson, a partner in Robins Kaplan’s Atlanta office, and associate Marla R. Butler spent three years working on the case, which occupied about 12 of the firm’s lawyers full time, said William H. Manning, the lead attorney on the suit. With this last settlement payment, the company will have received close to $1 billion in settlements since 2002 from its patent infringement litigation efforts. The $386 million from Hewlett-Packard and the other computer makers comes on top of a March 2002 settlement with Intel Corp. for $450 million in a separate patent infringement suit. “It was a very large amount of money to move from one side of the table to the other without a trial,” said Manning, who is in the firm’s Minneapolis office. Intergraph sued the three computer makers over their use of its technology, which was embedded in Intel’s Pentium chip, to increase cache memory in personal computers. In the early 1990s, PC makers were stymied by the inability of computer memory to keep up with increasing microprocessor speeds, explained Anderson. “Memory was the bottleneck — the problem that Howard Sachs and James Cho solved,” said Anderson. Sachs and Cho invented the technology as Intergraph employees. To win the settlement, the Robins Kaplan lawyers steeped themselves in microprocessor technology for almost three years. “It was as technical a matter as you could imagine,” Manning said. “We had to go into the inner workings of a microchip with 75 million transistors that make six billion transactions a second.” Each transistor is 0.1 microns in size, he said — a thousandth the size of a human hair (a behemoth at 100 microns). The lawyers had to peer into the infinitesimally small structure of a microchip to prove that the system manufacturers used Intergraph’s invention. “In this case, the structures were electronic gates and algorithms — things you can’t see that are buried in the microprocessor,” Anderson explained. The legal team retained experts in computer microarchitecture full time for two years to help, Manning said. The experts’ job was twofold — to provide the analysis needed to prove the case and to educate the lawyers, said Manning. “The job of a trial lawyer is to find the story of the inventor and make it simple. After an enormous amount of technical work done by a battery of experts, we were able to simplify the case and show what was in existence before this invention and what happened afterward,” he said. A psychology student in college, Manning said he had some computer aptitude, but “what I really have — and what any trial lawyer has — is the ability to constantly ask dumb questions. I have a fearless ability to continue asking questions — to put myself in the shoes of the juror.” Butler, who majored in English, faced the daunting task of deposing Intel engineers. To do this she “lived and breathed technology for months and months,” she said. “These were the people who were at the heart of the development and design of the Pentium processor. Some are Intel Fellows — the cream of the crop. They are amazingly smart people. It was great experience for me as a seventh-year lawyer. “It was my life for a couple of years,” she added. While Butler worked on the infringement side of the suits, Anderson, a founding partner of the Atlanta office, focused on damages. The firm assembled a list of “literally thousands” of products accused of infringement. It then had to sift through sales records, profit information and other financial data from the defendant companies to place a price tag on the royalties, he said. A vacation would seem in order to celebrate the successful conclusion of the intensive three-year litigation effort, but Manning said he’s already in depositions on another case. He said he’ll wait to take a breather until his daughter is off from school, so that he can catch up on time with his family.

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