Judge Andrews Denies Renewed Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law and Motion for New Trial Following Jury Verdict

April 28, 2016

Publication| Intellectual Property

In InterDigital Communications Inc. et al v. ZTE Corporation et al., C.A. No. 13-009-RGA (D. Del. Mar. 18, 2016), Judge Andrews denied the defendants’ renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law or, in the alternative, for a new trial with respect to patents ‘966 and ‘847. Judge Andrews alternatively postponed deciding the defendants’ motion regarding the ‘244 patent in light of an appeal on the patent’s validity pending in the Federal Circuit.

Despite the defendants’ argument that an admission by InterDigital’s infringement expert, Dr. Jackson, entitled the defendants to JMOL or, in the alternative, a new trial, Judge Andrews held that Dr. Jackson’s testimony was substantial evidence upon which the jury could have reasonably relied to determine that ZTE’s phones met the “same code” requirement. Judge Andrews noted that the jury is presumed to have considered all the evidence when reaching a verdict and to have attributed weight to the evidence provided by experts in accordance with the credibility they perceive. Commenting that the jury had substantial evidence to support its verdict, Judge Andrews concluded that he would not disrupt the jury’s findings.

Specifically, Judge Andrews pointed to the defendants’ opportunity to challenge Dr. Jackson if they believed his testimony lacked support regarding a contested limitation during the trial. Although the Court acknowledged that the defendants did not have a burden to prove non-infringement, he found that the defendants did have the ability to challenge Dr. Jackson’s testimony for lacking support but chose not to. Judge Andrews also denied the defendants’ alternate request for a new trial after concluding that the invalidity and infringement verdicts were not inconsistent.

Moreover, although Judge Andrews commented that the plaintiff “probably exceeded the scope” of the permissible use of licensing references as context evidence during the trial, the use was not “sufficiently prejudicial to warrant a new trial.” Judge Andrews similarly rejected the defendants’ argument that a new trial was warranted due to the plaintiff’s use of an “impeachment ‘scoreboard’” during closing argument, which, according to the defendants, improperly presented consistent statements as impeachment. Judge Andrews pointed to the jury’s instructions that “it was the sole judge of credibility” of witnesses and that attorneys’ arguments do not constitute evidence to conclude that the jury was not improperly influenced by the demonstrative.

Finally, because of a pending appeal related to the ‘244 patent, Judge Andrews postponed his review of the defendants’ motion regarding the ‘244 patent until the Federal Circuit issues a ruling.

Analysis: This case highlights that Delaware judges are not inclined to disturb jury verdicts absent exceptional circumstances.

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