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BRIEFCASE

August 22, 1991|David Olmos, Assistant business editor

Patent Case Penalties: A federal court jury in Virginia recently found Japan's Toshiba and NEC Corps. and several of their U.S. subsidiaries--including Irvine-based Toshiba America Electronic Components--guilty of two counts of patent infringement in a case involving computer-memory devices.

The jury decided in favor of claims by Wang Laboratories Inc., a Massachusetts computer maker, that Toshiba and NEC had infringed Wang patents in a case filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., in October, 1990. The patents involved so-called single in-line memory modules, or SIMMS, which are small memory devices that snap into a slot of a personal computer to change or add memory to the machine.

The jury ordered Toshiba and NEC to pay royalties for their past infringements equal to between 2.75% and 4% of each company's sales of the infringing products between Jan. 1, 1990, and June 30, 1991. Toshiba and NEC together sold about $120 million worth of products with the SIMM products during that period, according to a Washington law firm that represented Wang.

The jury also granted Wang's request for a permanent injunction, barring the future use or sale by the two companies in the United States of the products in question. The judge in the case will decide soon whether the injunction will become effective immediately or be stayed pending a possible appeal by Toshiba or NEC.

In a statement, Toshiba Corp. in Japan said it believes the Wang patents are invalid but added that it has not yet decided if it will appeal the decision.

NEC officials could not be reached for comment.

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