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Federal Circuit Affirms $7.5 Million Award in Telecommunications Suit

March 09, 2017

On Tuesday, the Federal Circuit affirmed a $7.5 million jury verdict against Sprint in litigation over a series of Comcast patents addressing computer network technology assisting telephone calls. More specifically, the patents use Domain Name System (DNS) technology to identify a call destination, and route the calling party through a telecommunication system. Essentially, the call is initiated through the switched telecommunication system, and connects a calling party with the calling destination, as identified through the DNS signaling.

Comcast argued that sprint’s parallel system infringed on their patent family. For Sprint, calls began on their wireless cellular network, which operates using a Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) network. The call then moves through the Internet Protocol Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) network, which routes receiving calls to their intended destination. Comcast argued that the routing process was an infringement upon their method patents.

In 2014, a jury determined that Sprint had in fact infringed the patents, and awarded Comcast $7.5 million. Spring then appealed, arguing that the district court’s decision was founded on incorrect claim constructions—in other words, that the district court had construed the claims of the patents wrongly.

On Tuesday, the Federal Circuit upheld the district court’s decision, stating that even if Sprint’s arguments about claim constructions were correct, Sprint still infringed under their revised claim interpretations. Further, the Federal Circuit dismissed Sprint’s argument that there was insufficient evidence to find infringement. The appellate court noted that Sprint failed to “identify any prejudice associated with the district court’s claim construction as it never explains in its opening brief how its purportedly correct and narrower claim construction would have affected the infringement verdict.”

The clash between Sprint and Comcast will continue into the future, as this case represents only one of several patent disputes between the two companies. After Comcast initially filed suit, Sprint filed counter-claims, alleging that Comcast is infringing upon its patents. Similarly, another case involving text messaging systems was resolved between the two companies this past February.


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