SAN FRANCISCO Mentor Graphics Corp. was handed another legal defeat in its patent infringement battle with emulation rival Cadence Design Systems after a federal jury here found that three Mentor patents are invalid.
Mentor (Wilsonville, Oregon) had claimed Cadence (San Jose, Calif.) had infringed the patents.
Mentor had been seeking an injunction against Cadence/Quickturn's Mercury and Mercury Plus emulators, claiming they violated a total of six Mentor patents. Mentor was also seeking as much as $200 million in damages in a related misappropriation of trade secrets claim.
U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston found three of the patents invalid last year, and the jury today (Feb. 19) found the other three patent invalid. It also threw out the trade secrets allegations.
The court also earlier dismissed a breach of confidence claim brought by Mentor against Cadence.
The latest ruling represents another chapter in the Mentor-Cadence/Quickturn legal saga. Mentor said it plans to appeal, and several other cases are headed for trial.
Dean Freed, Mentor's general counsel, said the company was disappointed with the jury's verdict but plans to file pre-trial motions to have Judge Illston consider overturning the jury finding on its patents. The company can also appeal Illston's earlier ruling on its other three patents to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington.
The jury here deliberated for about two weeks before reaching a verdict.
"We are very pleased that the jury took the time and had the patience to come to the right conclusion," Alyssa Allen, Cadence's vice president and associate general counsel, said at the court house. "Every claim of every patent that Mentor claimed we infringed was ruled invalid by the jury."
Allen said Cadence will likely seek compensation for legal fees it incurred in defending against the Mentor suit.
Had the jury ruled in Mentor's favor, Mentor would have been able to stop the use of Cadence's Mercury and Mercury Plus boxes. However, the two emulators are legacy products and Cadence's Quickturn division no longer sells them. A ruling in Mentor's favor would also have made it easier for it to further its claims in its seperate suit involving Cadence's latest generation emulation system, Palladium.
Freed said the Palladium suit would likely not go to trial for at least another year.
Cadence also has filed suit against the Ikos group, which Mentor purchased last year.
The legal saga in the emulation business began in 1996 when Quickturn, then an independent emulation vendor, succeeded in banning sales of SimExpress emulators from Mentor's Meta subsidiary in the United States. Mentor also launched a hostile takeover big for Quickturn, but Cadence eventually outbid Mentor.
Since then, Mentor has been bent on suing Cadence into submission, though with mixed results.
For example, Mentor licensed a patent from Aptix for the apparent purpose of suing Quickturn. The suit was dismissed in 2000 after a judge ruled that Aptix's patent documentation was fraudulent. Court documents also stated that Aptix chief executive Amr Mohsen falsified engineering diaries and staged a break in of his own car to conceal evidence.
Mentor later sued Aptix for fraud, and has since settled one of two lawsuits.
In early February, Cadence sued both Mentor and Aptix in an attempt to recoup its legal costs. Cadence said its new legal gambit was intended to discourage more lawsuits.