First-Ever Patent Jury Trial Takes Place on Zoom

Takeaway: Jury Trials hosted on Zoom are becoming more common due to COVID.

While state courts around the country have held jury trials over Zoom during the pandemic, the first-ever patent jury trial will be conducted remotely this month via Zoom due to COVID-19 safety and health concerns. The case is against Valve Corp. over video game controllers. The trial involving the issue of patented video game controllers began as attorneys for both sides questioned potential jurors about their gaming habits.

The 27 potential jurors appeared via webcam from their homes around the Seattle area before Judge Thomas Zilly of the Western District of Washington, while attorneys for Valve and plaintiff Ironburg Inventions Ltd. appeared remotely from their own hometowns.

The participants could see each other, but only an audio feed was available to the public. Judge Zilly said sometimes jurors would be placed in a separate Zoom room when the parties needed to speak privately with him or their clients. Additionally, in another unusual aspect of a remote trial, each of the jurors will be sent one of the controllers at issue via overnight delivery to have during witness testimony.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we operate as a society in many ways including the justice system.