Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Shares of Vringo (UNKNOWN:VRNG.DL) jumped more than 12% early Tuesday, then settled to close up around 4% after a Seeking Alpha contributor suggested a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision could result in a significant additional damages owed to Vringo by Google in an existing patent infringement case.
So what: The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office already upheld the validity of Vringo's patents last November. Then, after Google's proposed workarounds were deemed insufficient, a U.S. District Court increased the ongoing royalty rate owed to Vringo based on legal standards of willful infringement, which resulted in a total judgment value of over $1 billion.
However, in a separate May 19 Supreme Court ruling (Petrella v. MetroGoldwyn-Mayer,), laches were effectively removed as a defense in copyright litigation. According to the SA contributor, this "strengthened the rights of US copyright holders and by extension Patent Holders and Patent Assertion Entities." Google previously used a laches defense to convince a Federal Judge to prevent Vringo from collecting past damages prior to Sept. 2011. So, based on Google's earnings during the period in question, and given the previous jury verdict 3.5% royalty rate set in November, Vringo could stand to collect as much as an additional $460 million.
Now what: These are huge numbers for a company whose total market capitalization sits under $300 million, so I can certainly understand Vringo's appeal to value seekers. However, we also need to keep in mind Google has made it clear it fully intends to continue appealing these rulings, so long-term investors would be wise to recognize Vringo still has plenty of work to do before it actually sees this money in its coffers.
Steve Symington has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Google (A and C shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.