In The News

Plano-based TAOS wins $58.7 million judgment

Mar 8, 2015
Dallas Morning News

A California company must pay Texas Advanced Optoelectronic Solutions $58.7 million for violating a contract and illegally using its patented light sensor technology, a Plano jury has decided.

The federal jury deliberat- ed nearly seven hours Friday before ruling that Intersil Corp. committed patent infringement and breach of contract when it used TAOS’ technology that allows flatpanel video displays to adjust brightness based on ambient light levels.

Intersil was ordered to pay $48.7 million in actual damages and $10 million in punitive damages for trade secret misappropriation and tortuous interference.

Lawyers for Intersil said they plan to appeal.

TAOS, a Plano-based semiconductor manufacturer, sued Intersil in 2008.

TAOS chief executive Kirk Laney told jurors that TAOS and Intersil discussed merging in 2004. As part of the negotiations, TAOS provided confidential documents about its patented dual-diode ambient light sensor, which allows electronic devices to extend battery life and provide optimum viewing in diverse lighting conditions, Laney said.

When no merger deal was reached, Intersil sent TAOS a certificate of destruction saying the trade secret information had been eliminated, said Michael McCabe.

“Two years later, in 2006, Intersil introduced a product that clearly used technology developed by our client,” McCabe said. “That same year, Intersil again claimed that they had destroyed the documents we provided to them, but this time claimed that they had developed the same technology even before we provided it to them, which we were able to show was silly.”

During the four-week trial, lawyers also argued that Intersil used TAOS’ confidential pricing information to undercut TAOS and win supply contracts, McCabe said.

Lawyers for Intersil challenged the validity of the TAOS patent and the damage amounts sought by TAOS.

McCabe said technology and patent disputes can be complex, but this case was not.

“Intersil had the opportunity and ability to buy TAOS but instead chose to embark on a course of conduct that involved lying, cheating and stealing,” Jamil Alibhai said in closing arguments.