ParkerVision Plunges After Qualcomm Patent Verdict Is Thrown Out

Jun 23, 2014 4:25 pm ET

June 23 (Bloomberg) -- ParkerVision Inc. fell the most since first selling shares to the public in 1993 after a federal judge threw out its $173 million patent-infringement victory against Qualcomm Inc. over wireless-network technology.

ParkerVision plunged 63 percent to $1.85 at 4 p.m. in New York trading of 39 million shares.

ParkerVision, a wireless-chip designer with no reported revenue, claimed Qualcomm infringed its patents for ways to convert electromagnetic signals from higher frequencies to lower frequencies. This makes receivers in mobile phones and tablets smaller, more power efficient and more effective. Qualcomm said it never used the technology and came up with its own ideas.

“While the court is loath to overturn the jury’s verdict, on this record, it is the court’s only choice,” U.S. District Judge Roy B. Dalton in Jacksonville, Florida, ruled on June 20.

ParkerVision’s evidence relied too much on speculation of what Qualcomm chips do, and there was “an insufficient evidentiary basis for the jury’s infringement verdict in this action,” Dalton said. If an appeals court disagrees with his analysis, the judge said, Qualcomm should at least get a new trial.

Dalton rejected San Diego-based Qualcomm’s request to rule the patents invalid or order a new trial on that issue. The judge closed the case, so ParkerVision can now seek review before an appeals court. The company pledged to do so.

Shares Plunge

“While we are pleased that the court upheld the jury’s decision that the patents are valid, we are obviously disappointed with the district court’s ruling that judgment be entered for Qualcomm on non-infringement,” ParkerVision Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Parker said in a statement.

The Jacksonville, Florida-based company’s stock rises and falls with this case, because investors are counting on revenue from Qualcomm, which reported $24.9 billion in sales in the fiscal year ended Sept. 29. ParkerVision reported a $5.77 million loss in the first quarter, on no revenue.

ParkerVision had risen 23 percent in the 12 months ended last week. Qualcomm today fell 0.5 percent to $79.43.

Qualcomm owns the most widely used technology standard in mobile phones with Internet access. ParkerVision accused the company of being the chief impediment to its wireless designs being adopted by the telecommunications industry.

“As the court noted in its detailed decision, the evidence could only support a finding of non-infringement,” Alex Rogers, Qualcomm’s head of litigation, said in a statement. “Qualcomm simply does not use the techniques claimed in ParkerVision’s patents.”

Second Lawsuit

While the overturned verdict dealt with technology found in a $4 chip, the patents in a second case pending against Qualcomm involve technology that typically costs $20 or more per device, ParkerVision has said.

That second case involves patents related to the way mobile devices send information to a cell tower and also includes as defendant mobile-phone maker HTC Corp., a Qualcomm customer.

ParkerVision said it showed the technology to Qualcomm in the late-1990s during failed licensing negotiations, then discovered in 2011 that Qualcomm had incorporated the inventions in its smartphone chips. Qualcomm’s baseband chips are the key component in phones such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone and high-end models in Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy line.

The case is ParkerVision v. Qualcomm, 11cv719, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida (Orlando).

--With assistance from Joshua Fineman in New York.