Marina Siqueira
Jul 2, 2024

Verizon Ordered to Pay $847 Million in Major Patent Infringement Case

Patent Litigation

Verizon, patent infringement, 5G technology, patent disputes, intellectual property

On June 28, 2024, a federal jury in East Texas issued one of the largest patent verdicts ever, requiring Verizon to pay $847 million to General Access Solutions for patent infringement.

Filed in October 2022, the case centers around two patents related to 5G wireless technology. General Access Solutions claimed that Verizon had been using these patents without permission. One patent involves beamforming, which enhances the speed and quality of 5G networks. General Access argued that Verizon's 5G network uses this patented technology in over 75,000 base stations, significantly reducing Verizon's costs. The second patent pertains to the use of Wi-Fi to rebroadcast communications from a cellular network to multiple wireless devices. General Access alleged that Verizon sold 94.6 million infringing devices.

Verizon contended that it did not infringe on the patents, asserting that they were designed for fixed wireless networks, not mobile technology. They argued that the patents do not enable beamforming in a mobile network and were invalid due to changes made during the patent application process. However, the jury rejected these arguments and ruled in favor of General Access.

The plaintiff was represented by Bartlit Beck, including attorneys Glen E. Summers, Michael J. Valaik, Nosson D. Knobloch, and Sten Jernudd, as well as Ward Smith & Hill PLLC, with attorneys John Ward, Charles Everingham IV, and Andrea L. Fair.

Verdict and Financial Implications

The jury awarded General Access Solutions $847 million, with $583 million attributed to US Patent No. 7,230,931 and $264 million to US Patent No. 9,426,794. This amount represents seven percent of Verizon's $12 billion profit from 2023, equivalent to approximately 26 days of profit.

Broader Impacts

This case highlights the ongoing tension between patent holders and large tech and telecom companies over the ownership and licensing of critical wireless technologies. As the industry transitions to 5G and beyond, such disputes are expected to intensify, with both sides seeking to protect their intellectual property and commercial interests.

The $847 million verdict, if upheld, could impact Verizon’s 5G rollout and market position, potentially reshaping the competitive landscape. Other major carriers might need to reevaluate their technology choices and licensing arrangements. Additionally, patent disputes are emerging in other cutting-edge technology domains like AI and blockchain, and the outcome of this case could encourage more patent holders to assert their rights in these sectors.

Role of Expert Witnesses

Expert witnesses were crucial in this case. Verizon's expert, a renowned scholar in networks and mobile communications, testified on non-infringement and patent invalidity, arguing that the patents did not enable beamforming in a mobile network. In contrast, General Access Solutions' expert, an authority in wireless communications, demonstrated how Verizon's 5G products infringed the patents, which were claimed to be essential to 5G and mobile hotspots. Their technical analysis and testimony were central to the trial’s proceedings in this high-stakes 5G patent dispute.

This landmark case serves as a significant example of the complexities and financial stakes involved in patent disputes within the rapidly evolving technology sector. The outcome could have far-reaching implications for the future of 5G technology and beyond.