A Delaware federal judge on Thursday granted Pure Storage Inc. a new trial on the issue of whether the EMC Corp. data storage patent a jury said the startup infringed, leading to a $14 million verdict for EMC, was anticipated by an earlier Sun Microsystems patent.
The ruling keeps alive Pure Storage’s challenge of the unfavorable verdict from March, in which jurors decided EMC, the largest computer storage company in the world, was owed $14 million in royalties by its rival, a Mountain View, Calif.-based outfit that went public last year.
Pure Storage, seeking judgment as a matter of law or in the alternative, a new trial, in the wake of that verdict, argued the jury ignored evidence that the data storage patent at issue — U.S. Patent No. 7,434,015 — was invalid based on the Sun patent.
U.S. District Judge Richard G. Andrews issued a two-step finding in his analysis regarding the Sun patent: one, that it was prior art, since its patent application was filed nine months before EMC’s, and two, that the jury did not find whether the Sun patent discloses “each and every limitation of the asserted claims” of ‘015 that leaves the anticipation issue hanging.
“The jury did not specifically find whether the Sun patent discloses every limitation of the asserted claims of the ‘015 patent,” he said. “The question whether the Sun patent discloses the ‘space efficient, probabilistic summary’ of the asserted claims cannot be determined as a matter of law and is therefore a fact question for the jury.”
Pure Storage skated by on one argument — its other arguments in support of judgment as a matter of law or new trial based on anticipation by the Venti reference or Moulton patent were rejected by the judge.
EMC sued Pure Storage in November 2013, claiming its rival infringed five patents relating to data storage technology. It later dropped one patent from the suit and in pretrial motions a judge found that Pure Storage hadn’t infringed a second patent.
At trial, jurors were asked whether ‘015, which involves a technology knows as de-duplication, and which saves storage space by eliminating duplicate copies of repeating data, was valid and whether Pure Storage infringed two other EMC patents at issue.
Following a seven-day trial, the jury found ‘015 patent to be valid and that Pure Storage infringed, awarding the $14 million verdict in royalties. It cleared Pure Storage of infringement for the two remaining patents.
The verdict prompted EMC to file a new suit in Delaware federal court against its rival, arguing that the damages award covered only a limited period of time and only a limited set of Pure Storage products, and that it would seek additional damages from “extensive sales of later-released models of Pure products.”
Additionally, EMC sought a preliminary injunction against Pure Storage after the verdict to block the company from selling its new line of storage products, arguing it’s not substantially different from the line found to be infringing.
Pure Storage shot back in a May filing that it has redesigned its software in the wake of the verdict and that an injunction is unwarranted because EMC doesn’t face any future injury.
In light of his decision to grant Pure Storage a new trial on the Sun patent anticipation issue, the judge denied as moot EMC’s motion for a permanent injunction.
Representatives for both sides couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Thursday.
Pure Storage is represented by Robert A. Van Nest, Matthew Werdegar, R. Adam Lauridsen, Corey Johanningmeier and David W. Rizk of Keker & Van Nest LLP, John W. Shaw and David M. Fry of Shaw Keller LLP and in-house by Joseph FitzGerald.
EMC is represented by Steven Kalogeras, Jordan H. Bekier, Kate Dominguez, Laura Corbin, Joshua A. Krevitt, Paul E. Torchia and Stuart M. Rosenberg of Gibson Dunn, Chris R. Ottenweller, Matthew H. Poppe, Jesse Y. Cheng, Alyssa M. Caridis and T. Vann Pearce Jr. of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, Rodger Dallery Smith II, Jack B. Blumenfeld and Jeremy A. Tigan of Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP and in-house by Paul T. Dacier, Krishnendu Gupta, William R. Clark and Thomas A. Brown.
The case is EMC Corp. et al. v. Pure Storage Inc., case numbers 1:16-cv-00176 and 1:13-cv-01985, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.