Cisco cleared in eight-year wi-fi patent battle

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Cisco cleared in eight-year wi-fi patent battle
The Cisco Systems logo is seen as part of a display at a technology conference in Chicago, Illinois, May 4, 2015. REUTERS/JIM YOUNG

Appeal overturns earlier ruling on damages and interest.

Cisco Systems has been cleared of infringing a wi-fi patent on appeal, reversing a near US$64 million ($88.3 million) judgment against the networking equipment maker in the long-running  dispute.

After eight years of litigation that also included a trip to the US Supreme Court, the decision from the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said Cisco was not liable for directly infringing or inducing others to infringe a patent held by Commil USA LLC on a way to help spread wireless signals over a large area, where multiple access points are needed.

Representatives for Commil and Cisco could not immediately be reached.

Commil sued Cisco in 2007.

In 2011, a federal jury in Texas found that Cisco induced infringement by encouraging its customers to use Cisco products that infringe Commil's patent.

The jury awarded Commil almost US$63.8 million in damages.

A judge subsequently added US$10.3 million in interest.

In 2013, the Washington, DC-based Federal Circuit, the nation's top appeals court specialising in patent issues, ordered a new trial, saying that Cisco should have been able to mount a defence based on its "good faith belief" that Commil's patent was invalid.

The Supreme Court in May said that defence was not legitimate, throwing out the ruling and sending the case back to the Federal Circuit.

A three-judge Federal Circuit panel on Monday again ruled in favour of San Jose, California-based Cisco.

The panel said that when it last considered the case, it did not consider some of Cisco's arguments that it did not infringe the patent.

In weighing those arguments this time, the panel said that "substantial evidence did not support the jury's findings."

(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi, Chizu Nomiyama and Andrew Hay)

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