S&C Delivers Patent Trial Victory for Columbia University

May 9, 2022

Columbia University won a major trial victory in its long-running patent battle with NortonLifeLock (formerly known as Symantec). On May 2, after a two-week trial and three days of deliberations, an eight-person jury in the Eastern District of Virginia unanimously found that Norton willfully infringed two Columbia patents directed to malware detection technology invented by Columbia professors. The jury also found that a separate patent that Norton had obtained in its own name was co-invented by the Columbia professors, which will lead to a remedy called “correction of inventorship.”
The jury awarded $185 million in base damages, and the willful infringement finding on both patents will allow the judge to treble damages up to $555 million. With prejudgment interest and a potential to recover attorneys' fees and costs, the total judgment could exceed $600 million. The jury verdict found that each copy of software that Norton sold to customers outside of the United States was a copy made in and distributed from the United States, which substantially increased damages.
When S&C replaced Columbia's prior counsel in 2018, the university had suffered a series of losses, including on claim construction and claim validity. S&C turned the case around, prevailing on every material motion filed between 2018 and the present. The victories included rulings on supplemental claim construction, Norton's attempt to invalidate the remaining patent claims under Section 101 (patent subject matter eligibility), summary judgment motions, Daubert motions, and motions in limine. As a result of S&C's success on pre-trial evidentiary motions, Norton had no damages case to present at trial.
The case began in 2013, when Columbia sued Norton (then Symantec) because Norton was infringing Columbia's patents and because Norton had patented in its own name certain network security technology that was largely developed by Columbia professors. The Columbia professors will receive a share of any recovery, and most of the remainder will be invested in research programs and scholarships.
The S&C team was led by Garrard Beeney and Dustin Guzior and included Stephen Elliot, Alex Gross and Jessica Ecker. The American Lawyer's Litigation Daily named Garrard and Dustin first runners up for “Litigator of the Week” for this result.