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Cisco defeats Centripetal patent case that led to $2.75 billion award

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Cisco defeats Centripetal patent case that led to $2.75 billion award
Reuters
Blake Brittain
December 12, 2023

By Blake Brittain

(Reuters) - A federal judge in Virginia has rejected cybersecurity company Centripetal Networks' patent infringement claims against Cisco Systems in a multi-billion-dollar fight over network-security technology.

A different judge in the same court, U.S. District Judge Henry Morgan, had awarded Centripetal $2.75 billion in the case in 2020, marking the largest patent damages award in U.S. history. A federal appeals court later overturned that award on ethics grounds because Morgan's wife owned Cisco stock.

Morgan had died in the interim, and the appeals court directed that the case be heard by a new judge. U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Hanes held new hearings in the case and ruled on Monday that Cisco did not infringe the patents.

Representatives for Centripetal and Cisco did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Reston, Virginia-based Centripetal sued Cisco in 2018, claiming Cisco's routers, network-security software and other products infringed patents related to Centripetal's technology for blocking security threats from entering a computer network.

Morgan ruled for Centripetal in 2020 after a non-jury trial. He awarded Centripetal $1.9 billion in damages, plus royalties that Cisco said increased the total to more than $2.7 billion.

Morgan told the companies before issuing his ruling that he had learned his wife owned 100 shares of Cisco stock worth $4,688. He said that he was unaware of the stock during the trial and that it had not influenced his handling of the case.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit threw out the award and sent the case back to the Virginia court. The appeals court found that Morgan either should have recused himself from the case or made sure the stock was sold.

The U.S. Supreme Court later declined to review the Federal Circuit's decision.

(Reporting by Blake Brittain in Washington; additional reporting by Nate Raymond; Editing by David Bario and Rosalba O'Brien)

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