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Litton-Honeywell Verdict Sent Back to District Court

April 09, 1998| From Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court sent back to U.S. District Court a $1.2-billion jury verdict awarded to Litton Industries Inc. in its long-running patent fight with Honeywell Inc.

A federal appeals court remanded the case to a trial judge after ruling for Honeywell on some issues and for Litton on others in the complex fight over a process for making mirrors used in aircraft navigation systems.

Honeywell said it was pleased with the decision, which revises an earlier ruling issued by the same court in 1996 that largely sided with Litton.

"We are optimistic that when the case is finally concluded there will be a favorable result for Honeywell," the Minneapolis-based company said in a statement.

Litton Senior Vice President John E. Preston said the Woodland Hills-based company was disappointed with the court's latest decision. He said the new ruling "may delay the ultimate resolution or make recovery of damages more difficult, but it does not eliminate them."

The case has wended its way through the federal court system since the 1993 verdict by a California jury. Last year, the Washington-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit supported some of the jury's findings about infringement, but ordered more lower court proceedings on damages.

Honeywell then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which told the lower court to reconsider the case in light of the high court's 1997 decision in a separate patent dispute.

Honeywell's appeal challenged a patent rule known as the doctrine of equivalents, which lets a patent holder win damages from competitors for products or processes that are similar, but not identical, to patented inventions.

In the high court case, the justices upheld the doctrine of equivalents and laid down new guidelines for how to interpret that legal rule.

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