Corvis found to infringe 2nd patent of Ciena

Jury verdict expected to have a broader effect

April 29, 2003|By Stacey Hirsh | Stacey Hirsh,SUN STAFF

The Columbia telecommunications company Corvis Corp. was found by a federal jury yesterday to have infringed on a patent of rival Ciena Corp. of Linthicum.

The decision in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Del., comes after a ruling in the same court last month that Corvis infringed on one of Ciena's patents but did not infringe on two others.

Yesterday's ruling, which was announced by Ciena, came from the retrial of a fourth patent case that the jury could not reach a decision on last month.

Of the four cases, the new ruling was the most important because it is broader than the others and covers the architecture for the systems that Corvis makes, said Russell Stevenson, general counsel for Ciena.

"It's a very important milestone in a pretty important case," he said.

Andy Backman, vice president of investor relations and public relations for Corvis, said that before entering a final verdict there are still several issues that the judge must address, which could result in the verdict being reversed. The proceedings could take years, he said.

"Clearly we're disappointed that the jury found against Corvis," Backman said. "We remain firm in our belief that our products have always been and will continue to be designed to respect the intellectual property of others, including Ciena."

Ciena Corp., a fiber-optic equipment maker, was founded by David R. Huber, who left the company to start rival Corvis.

"There's a lot going on beneath the surface, you can almost bet on that. This is more about personalities and egos and spite than anything that's going to have an impact on the bottom line," said Mark Lutkowitz, a principal for Telecom Pragmatics Inc., an Alabama consulting firm.

Patent lawsuits are common in the telecommunications industry. While Lutkowitz said the win was a big one for Ciena on paper, he questioned how much the company would actually benefit from the ruling because, he said, Corvis is not considered a major player in the fiber-optic equipment field.

Stevenson, Ciena's attorney, said the company plans to file a motion for an injunction against Corvis continuing to sell products that infringe on its patents.

Ciena shares rose 24 cents, or 5.73 percent, to close at $4.46.

Shares of Corvis, which are traded on the Nasdaq SmallCap market, fell 8 cents, or 9.88 percent, to close at 73 cents.

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