Fenwick & West today announced that it helped client FriendFinder obtain a successful result in trial in Texarkana, Texas of a lawsuit involving allegations of infringement of two patents. Although plaintiff Parallel Networks had sought $62 million in damages, the jury adopted FriendFinder's alternative damages figure of $1.257 million. Together with lead counsel Danny Williams and co-counsel Matt Rodgers from Williams, Morgan & Amerson of Houston, Fenwick & West obtained the favorable result in a forum that is generally considered challenging for a defendant, the Eastern District of Texas.
The FriendFinder trial team raised strong non-infringement and invalidity defenses, and presented a compelling argument that the plaintiff's damages model, which sought $62 million as a "reasonable royalty," was vastly over-inflated. The jury began deliberating on Friday, August 22, and reached a verdict the following Monday afternoon, finding the patents valid and infringed, but instead of awarding the plaintiff the $62 million in damages it had sought, the jury adopted FriendFinder's alternative damages figure of $1.257 million.
Fenwick trial counsel Michael Sacksteder credited FriendFinder's "compelling" damages case, spearheaded by Fenwick partner Virginia DeMarchi, for the successful outcome. He commented that "the positive result was driven by a remarkable team effort from the Fenwick litigation team,
Fenwick & West's trial team consisted of litigation partners Michael Sacksteder, Virginia DeMarchi, Tyler Baker, Darryl Woo, and associates Hector Ribera, Bryan Kohm, Todd Gregorian and Juleen Konkel.
Patent litigation chair Charlene Morrow said: "There hasn't been a patent trial in Texarkana in at least 2 years, defense 'wins' there are rare, and for anyone to pull off a defense victory, even if it turns out to be a $1-2MM loss as against a $62MM request, is just phenomenal. Since juries often award the damages sought by a successful patent plaintiff, it seems likely that the strong defense on the merits contributed to this excellent result."
According to Ira P. Rothken who manages FriendFinder's national litigation efforts: "Friendfinder has a policy of vigorously defending against exaggerated patent claims. The Eastern District of Texas presented FriendFinder with unique challenges for an Internet related patent trial. We wanted to use the best of Silicon Valley and Eastern Texas. In this case, we found the optimal formula to be combining Fenwick's 'Silicon Valley' technical and trial expertise with Danny Williams' deep Texas trial experience. It proved to be a winning combination."