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Intel Faces Another Waco Jury on Heels of $2 Billion Patent Loss

April 12, 2021, 8:28 PM

VLSI Technology LLC and Intel Corp. have returned to a federal courtroom in Waco, Texas, for a second patent trial, where VLSI hopes to build off a $2 billion win just weeks ago.

In opening statements Monday, Irell & Manella LLP attorney Morgan Chu said VLSI had no choice but to bring Intel to court because the chipmaker’s microprocessors use VLSI’s patented power-saving and speed technology.

Chu acknowledged that VLSI doesn’t make its own products and specializes in patent licensing. But he urged jurors not to be “diverted by those and other criticisms that you may hear.”

Intel’s attorney, William Lee of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, told jurors that the company’s engineers spent years independently developing products that are used in everything from laptops to military fighter planes.

Lee highlighted “Project Sahara,” a new collaboration between Intel and university researchers to develop more secure, custom chips for the U.S. government.

“All of these applications, from the laptop my granddaughter uses for school to Project Sahara, are using the microprocessors these folks say infringe their patents,” Lee said, adding that “lawsuits seeking damages for work done by others impose a burden on the American economy.”

Lee also lobbed an early challenge to the “enormous” amount of money that VLSI is seeking in the case, telling the jury that it was “divorced from real-world evidence.”

Fair Trial

VLSI brought three patent suits against Intel in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas over chipmaking technology. Trial in the first case ended March 2, with a Waco jury telling Intel to pay $2.18 billion to VLSI.

It is one of the largest patent verdicts ever.

The second trial involves different patents. But Intel has expressed concern about being able to get a fair trial in Waco, saying its well-publicized loss could influence jurors.

It asked the case be sent to nearby Austin. Alternatively, it said trial should be pushed to July.

A later trial date may “permit the news of the first trial to fade from prospective jurors’ memories in Waco,” Intel wrote in a court filing last month.

Judge Alan Albright denied Intel’s requests in a short order Friday.

VLSI is represented by Irell & Manella, Mann | Tindel | Thompson, and Steckler Wayne Cochran Cherry PLLC. Intel is represented by WilmerHale and Kelly Hart & Hallman LLP.

The case is VLSI Technology LLC v. Intel Corp., W.D. Tex., No. 21-cv-00299, trial opened 4/12/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Bultman in New York at mbultman@correspondent.bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Renee Schoof at rschoof@bloombergindustry.com; Kibkabe Araya at karaya@bloombergindustry.com

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