By Robin Cleary
After nine years of protracted litigation, a Santa Clara jury unanimously decided that Marvell Semiconductor Inc. did not misappropriate Jasmine Network Inc.’s trade secrets and did not violate a non-disclosure agreement according to published reports. The lynch pin of Jasmine’s case was the infamous voice mail heard ’round Silicon Valley—in it, a conversation among Marvell’s former general counsel, in-house patent attorney and vice president of engineering was recorded when Marvell’s counsel inadvertently failed to hang-up the phone after leaving a message for Jasmine’s legal and business affairs director. According to a transcript of the voice mail, Marvell’s former general counsel stated that: "Sehat doesn’t go to jail. [Marvell vice president of business development] Manuel [Alba] might go to jail." Later, another company officer says: "If we took that IP on the pretense just evaluating it, and put it in our product …"
Jasmine’s attorney portrayed this voice mail as the pièce de résistance in its case to prove that Marvell conspired to steal Jasmine’s trade secrets and raid a group of Jasmine’s core engineers. But, after two weeks of deliberations, a Santa Clara jury disagreed.
According to reports, when the voice mail was actually played for the jury, it was difficult to hear because multiple voices were talking over each other. In addition, Marvell mounted an aggressive counter-attack on Jasmine. Marvell’s defense attorney argued that Jasmine had stolen technology from a Stanford professor in an alleged "night raid" and then tried to sell that same technology to Marvell. For added flair, Marvell’s defense attorney even waved a pair of toy night-vision goggles in front of the jury during his closing argument. Marvell’s counsel also downplayed the voice mail, saying that Jasmine was using it as an extortion tool against Marvell.
Santa Clara Superior Court Judge William Elfving presided over the trial in the case, which has made two trips to the Court of Appeal.
It remains to be seen whether Jasmine will appeal but we would not be surprised if there is an appeal based upon the contentiousness of the parties’ dispute to date.