The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas ordered Intersil Corp. to pay Texas Advanced Optoelectronic Solutions Inc. (TAOS) close to $60 million in damages for violating a contract and illegally using its patented light sensor technology.
In response to claims of trade secret misappropriation, breach of contract, tortious interference with a business relationship and patent infringement, the jury awarded TAOS $48.8 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in exemplary damages.
TAOS, a Plano, Texas-based semiconductor manufacturer, sued rival Intersil in 2008 after it learned that the California-based chipmaker would provide dual-diode ambient light sensors to Apple for the second-generation iPhone (TAOS supplied the sensors for the first version of the iPhone in 2006). According to court records, Intersil also became the sensor supplier for the iPod Touch.
The lawsuit claimed that Intersil brought its ambient light sensors to market in a short period of time, which it could only do so by "copying" TAOS' trade secrets. The two companies discussed merging in 2004, and before the merger fell through, TAOS shared confidential information about its patented sensors as part of the deal. 
Intersil plans to appeal the verdict.