Another chapter of “What Were They Thinking?” was recently written by Acacia Research Corp. (DNT LLC vs. Sprint Nextel Corp. et al.)
DNT, a unit of Acacia Research, sued virtually all of the cell phone service providers alleging they infringed a patent directed to dialing technology. By choosing to sue several huge companies in a single suit, Acacia found itself facing seven (7) large, well-known and “respected” (lawyerspeak for “feared”) law firms. The result? After a three-week trial, the jury deliberated only two hours before finding the patent-in-suit invalid on three separate grounds: lack of enablement, insufficient written description – OK those two are related – and obviousness.
Acacia had been seeking $70-80 MILLION in damages. Moreover, this decision will not help the other suits Acacia currently has pending with respect to the same patent.
While we hesitate to characterize the opinion of Acacia held in corporate circles, one of the defendant’s trial counsel was quoted as saying, “[w]hat was particularly rewarding for us was to be able to take Acacia down.” He added, “[i]t really looked like this was an attempt to take a patent and expand it well beyond what it was meant for.”
THE LESSON TO BE LEARNED: Suing multiple defendants in a single suit may not be the best idea.