Judge Overturns Centripetal Patent Fine Against Cisco

Cisco Systems has this week achieved a notable outcome in its five year legal battle with cybersecurity company Centripetal Networks.

Reuters reported that in 2018, Reston, Virginia-based Centripetal had sued Cisco, alleging that Cisco’s routers, network-security software and other products had infringed patents related to Centripetal’s tech for blocking cyber threats entering a network.

In October 2020 US District Judge Henry Morgan in Norfolk, Virginia, found Cisco guilty of infringing four patents belonging to Centripetal.

Patent infringement

Judge Morgan awarded Centripetal $1.9 billion in damages, which plus royalties increased the total to more than $2.7 billion – which was the largest patent damages award in US history.

Centripetal had accused Cisco of infringing five of its patents, but Judge Morgan in 2020 after a month-long none-jury trial, found no infringement of a fifth patent.

Cisco in 2020 said it was disappointed with the decision, “given the substantial evidence of non-infringement, invalidity and that Cisco’s innovations predate the patents by many years.”

Cisco said three years ago that it planned to appeal to the US Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

The federal appeals court then overturned that award on ethics grounds, because of the fact that Judge Morgan’s wife owned Cisco stock.

Judge Morgan had reportedly told both companies before issuing his ruling that he had learned his wife owned 100 shares of Cisco stock worth $4,688.

At the time, Judge Morgan reportedly said that he was unaware of the stock holding during the trial, and that it had not influenced his handling of the case.

Court of appeals

However the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit did not agree Judge Morgan decision making, and threw out the award and sent the case back to the Virginia court.

The appeals court ruled that Judge Morgan either should have recused himself from the case or made sure the stock was sold.

The US Supreme Court then declined to review the Federal Circuit’s decision.

No infringement

Judge Morgan subsequently passed away, and the appeals court then directed that the case be heard by a new judge, namely US District Judge Elizabeth Hanes.

Judge Hanes held new hearings in the case, and on Monday ruled that Cisco did not infringe the patents, Reuters reported.

Representatives for Centripetal and Cisco did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday, Reuters noted.

There was also no reaction from either firms on X (aka Twitter).

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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