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Tom Brady NFL Career Analogies Swapped in Intel Patent Trial

Feb. 24, 2021, 11:43 PM

Tom Brady became a point of back-and-forth in the patent trial between Intel Corp. and VLSI Technology LLC on Wednesday, as jurors heard Intel could owe a “very, very large number.”

Intel has argued that none of the companies that owned the patents before VLSI acquired them in 2018 used the technology in “real-world” products. The patents relate to power savings and performance improvements in microprocessors.

Ryan Sullivan, president of Intensity LLC and VLSI’s economic expert, critiqued Intel’s damages model, which includes looking at some of Intel’s earlier patent transactions. Sullivan said they weren’t useful in determining damages because they didn’t reflect the benefits Intel allegedly received from the patented technology.

He drew a comparison to Brady, the quarterback who was selected in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL draft by the New England Patriots.

“The point is that as information becomes known and the uncertainties become resolved, then the numbers can change,” Sullivan said. “Just like we wouldn’t think that Tom Brady as the 199th pick is the answer to his current contribution to the Buccaneers.”

William Lee of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, an attorney for Intel, returned to the analogy during cross-examination, pointing out that the Patriots “figured out” what they had in Brady, “put him in the game, and they won the Super Bowl” during Brady’s second year with the team.

“No one put the ‘373 patent into the game. No one put the ‘759 patent into the game, did they?” said Lee, referring to VLSI’s U.S. U.S. Patent Nos. 7,523,373 and 7,725,759.

Sullivan’s testimony came on the third day of the trial, which is taking place in Judge Alan Albright’s courtroom in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. The economist didn’t say out loud how much VLSI thought it was entitled to. Lee called it a “very, very large number.”

While questioning Sullivan about his damages calculations, Lee mentioned the value of various professional sports teams, including the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers were sold in 2014 for $2 billion. Lee noted an article where Sullivan called the number “astronomical.”

The trial, one of the few in-person jury trials in a patent case since the pandemic started, opened Monday. Georgia Tech professor Tom Conte spent much of the day Tuesday on the witness stand, walking through the ins and outs of VLSI’s patented technology.

Morgan Chu of Irell & Manella LLP, an attorney for VLSI, told jurors during opening statements that Intel sold almost a billion infringing products. Sullivan returned to that point Wednesday, while emphasizing the purported value of the technology.

“I think it’s clear that Intel operates in a competitive marketplace where power savings and performance improvements are necessary for them to maintain their competitive position,” Sullivan said.

VLSI is represented by Irell & Manella LLP, Mann | Tindel | Thompson, and Haley & Olson PC. Intel is represented by WilmerHale and Kelly Hart & Hallman LLP.

The case is: VLSI Technology v. Intel Corp., W.D. Tex., No. 21-CV-00057.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Bultman in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Renee Schoof at; Kibkabe Araya at