Davis Polk represents various subsidiaries of Comcast Corp. in several patent infringement lawsuits against Sprint Communications Co. LP pending in federal courts across the country. On January 11, 2017, just two days after oral argument, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit summarily affirmed judgment in Comcast’s favor in one of these cases, which was tried in 2015 in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware.

Sprint had accused Comcast of infringing patents related to a number of different technologies. As to one asserted patent, Comcast won summary judgment of invalidity shortly before trial. As to a second asserted patent, Comcast persuaded the District Court to exclude Sprint’s damages theory, and Sprint stipulated to entry of judgment in Comcast’s favor before trial on that patent as a result. The trial focused on five claims across two patents involving optical networking technology. On those patents, Comcast won judgment as a matter of law post-trial in August 2015, overturning a $27.6 million damages verdict that Sprint had obtained in a jury trial earlier that year. In its post-trial order, the District Court found non-infringement as a matter of law as to all accused networks on all asserted claims. In the alternative, the Court also granted Comcast’s motion for a new trial, holding that the jury verdict in Sprint’s favor had been the result of Sprint’s “present[ing] an incorrect infringement theory to the jury” so that “allowing the verdict to stand would result in a miscarriage of justice.” Sprint appealed the summary judgment of invalidity and the post-trial judgment as a matter of law. It did not appeal the judgment entered as a result of the exclusion of its damages theory. Davis Polk led the briefing and argued the appeal for Comcast.

This case in the District of Delaware was the second of various lawsuits between the parties to reach trial. Davis Polk previously won a jury verdict against Sprint in the same district, and further cases between the parties remain pending in the District of Kansas and the Eastern District of Philadelphia. Sprint initiated the dispute by asserting 14 patents against Comcast’s telephony products and services in the District of Kansas, including a number of patents that it had previously asserted successfully against a number of voice-over-IP telephony providers. Comcast then asserted a number of its own patents in the District of Delaware and the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and Sprint asserted additional patent claims in those jurisdictions as well. 

The successful appeal was argued by partner Matthew B. Lehr. With him on the briefs were partner Anthony I. Fenwick, counsel David Lisson and associates Gareth DeWalt, Micah G. Block and Alyse L. Katz. Others who participated in pre- and post-trial proceedings include associates Vesna Cuk, Brooke Pyo, Andrew Yaphe, Edward Fu, Julien du Vergier and Serge Voronov. Members of the Davis Polk team are based in the Northern California and New York offices.

Comcast was also represented by co-counsel from Winston & Strawn and Delaware counsel Connolly & Gallagher. Sprint was represented by Shook Hardy & Bacon.