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Motorola Wins $764 Million in Radio Trade Secret Trial

Illinois federal jurors awarded Motorola Solutions LLC roughly $764 million Friday, finding Chinese rival Hytera Corp. infringed copyrights and misappropriated trade secrets to create and market a competing digital two-way radio.

After deliberating for a little more than two hours on Friday, the jury awarded Motorola Solutions an all-out win, giving the company everything it asked for during closing arguments: $345.76 million in compensatory damages and exemplary damages of $418.8 million. Motorola said after the verdict it plans to seek a global injunction barring the sale of the accused products.

A Motorola Solutions spokesman called the verdict a “tremendous victory” and “a clear repudiation of the illegal and anti-competitive tactics employed by Hytera over the last decade.”

The decision “further validates” the company’s global litigation against Hytera, said Mike De Vries, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, the firm representing Motorola. Motorola has also pursued patent and copyright infringement litigation against Hytera in Australia and Germany, and the International Trade Commission banned the import of infringing Hytera products.

“We presented clear facts and evidence of Hytera’s theft and infringement and are pleased the jury found in favor of our client, Motorola Solutions,” De Vries said in a statement.

A Hytera spokesman told Law360 the company was "disappointed with the verdict" and plans to appeal.

"Hytera respectfully disagrees with the jury and is currently considering pursuit of all appeal options," he said.

The verdict follows a three-month trial over claims that Motorola Solutions' former engineers stole thousands of confidential technical documents and millions of lines of source code before they left to work for Hytera, which wouldn't have been able to make a competing radio without that private information.

Motorola Solutions floated the damages figures during its closing arguments, telling jurors the massive theft allowed Hytera to misappropriate 21 trade secrets and infringe certain copyrights Motorola Solutions holds relating to its digital mobile radio.

After the verdict was read, Motorola told U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle that in light of the jury's findings, the company is prepared to immediately file a motion for a global injunction prohibiting the sale of the infringing products. The judge set a hearing on the matter for Feb. 21.

The two-way radios described in the litigation are used both for commercial and public safety purposes, including by police and fire departments.

During the trial, Motorola told jurors Hytera used more than 10,000 confidential technical documents and "millions and millions" of lines of source code that had been lifted from Motorola Solutions' databases because Hytera knew it couldn't make those radios on its own, calling Hytera's actions "one of the greatest thefts in the history of technology."

Hytera has acknowledged that certain Motorola solutions engineers stole confidential documents before they left the company to work for its competitor, but rejected Motorola’s claim that knowledge of the theft had spread beyond those former engineers.

The company argued at trial that Motorola was trying to pin a few employees' bad acts on an entire company, waiting to sue "until there were sales and sales" of Hytera's radio so it could claim entitlement to those profits. It claimed Motorola’s suit was blocked by the statute of limitations, but the jury concluded Friday the technology giant’s claims were not time-barred.

The March 2017 suit also raised patent infringement allegations, and Motorola Solutions won an initial determination of infringement in July 2018 from a U.S. International Trade Commission administrative law judge who recommended restrictions on the importation of Hytera's two-way radio equipment.

Motorola Solutions is represented by Adam Alper, Brandon Brown, Reza Dokhanchy, Michael De Vries, Justin Singh, Benjamin Herbert, Christopher Lawless, Ali-Reza Boloori, David Rokach, Megan New, Joshua Simmons, Akshay Deoras and Leslie Schmidt of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Hytera is represented by Michael Allan, Boyd Cloern, Jessica Rothschild, Kassandra Officer, David Bettwy, Brian Johnson, Alice Loughran, Scott Richey, Christopher Suarez, John Toth, Daniel Stringfield and Tron Fu of Steptoe & Johnson LLP, and Mark McDougall, Joshua Ryland and Todd Tucker of Calfee Halter & Griswold LLP.

The case is Motorola Solutions Inc. et al. v. Hytera Communications Corp. Ltd. et al., case number 1:17-cv-01973, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.