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Comcast gets $7.5M verdict in patent case against Sprint

Comcast Corp., the largest U.S. cable company, won $7.5 million in damages from wireless carrier Sprint Corp. for infringing telecommunications patents after a four-day federal jury trial. Comcast had asked for $16.5 million.

Comcast, which is seeking regulatory approval to buy rival Time Warner Cable Inc. for $45.2 billion, sued Overland Park, Kansas-based Sprint in 2012 in Wilmington, Delaware, alleging Sprint used its protected technology for methods of call-routing over the Internet and traditional phone lines.

“Comcast is entitled to a royalty” for the infringement, lawyer Matthew Lehr told jurors at the end of the trial, supervised by U.S. District Judge Richard G. Andrews.

The jury calculated the damage award on the basis of more than a dozen claims of infringement.

“Sprint does not infringe” the three patents, its lead lawyer, Brian Riopelle, said in his summation. “Comcast has tried to obscure the boundaries” of the patents and make them cover too much.

“We are disappointed and we expect to challenge this verdict,” a Sprint spokeswoman, Stephanie Vinge Walsh, said in an emailed statement. “Comcast filed this case after Sprint filed suit in Kansas alleging infringement of Sprint’s revolutionary voice over packet technology.” That case is slated for trial in 2016, after another patent trial against Comcast scheduled for February.

“Sprint has had knowledge” of the patented technology since at least November 2008, and “Sprint’s infringement has been willful since that time,” according to the Comcast complaint.

The case is Comcast IP Holdings I LLC v. Sprint Communications Co., 12-cv-00205, U.S. District Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

Targeted in court papers were parts of Sprint functions such as Sprint Mobile Integration, which expands mobile-phone capabilities; the use of Google Voice for online voice mail; and Airave 2, which provides a boosted wireless signal.

“We appreciate the jury recognized the value of Comcast’s patented intellectual property and we thank them for their time and service,” Charlie Douglas, a Comcast spokesman, said in an email.

The Comcast patents are 8,170,008; 7,012,916; and 8,204,046.