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3 of the Week’s Biggest Surprises: Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO), Research In Motion Ltd. (BBRY)

Say what you want about the tech sector, but it’s never boring. Any given week will keep tech investors flooded with product announcements, earnings surprises, and crazy strategy shifts that absolutely nobody saw coming.

Research in Motion Ltd. (BBRY)These are three of the most shocking pieces of tech news this week.

Surprise, surprise! Image source: Flickr user Benson Kua.

1. Cisco takes down VirnetX Holding Corporation
Shares of mobile security firm VirnetX Holding Corporation (NYSEMKT:VHC) plunged 38% in two days as its litigation strategy hit a major roadblock.

Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) walked away from VirnetX’s patent infringement lawsuit without as much as a slap on the wrist, because the jury found Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) not infringing on any of the licensing company’s inventions.

VirnetX investors had plenty of reason to hope for a very different outcome. The same batch of patents had already extracted a $200 million settlement from Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and a $368 million damage award from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). The Apple decision was reaffirmed in February — by the same judge who managed the Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) case. And this suit was filed in the Eastern district of Texas, where patent plaintiffs go to win.

But this jury broke with the district’s tradition and found Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) blameless on all counts. VirnetX must be mulling an appeal right now, but its legal strategy has obviously taken a big hit. The Microsoft and Apple outcomes seemed to pave the way to unlimited riches, as anyone involved in secure networking would have to pay their bills. With the Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) decision in hand, the road ahead just filled up with potholes and speed bumps.

2. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) won South by Southwest
South by Southwest isn’t a technology showcase. It’s a music fest that turns Austin upside down for a week every year. You might call it the most intense “battle of the bands” in the known world. Nobody expects major tech news out of the street party, though.

That’s why you might raise an eyebrow when fellow Fool Tim Beyers declares Google the winner of SXSW.

Big G set up a display for the festival, shining a spotlight on two interesting consumer devices. A hands-on demonstration of the Google Glass wearable computing tool was followed by 12 pairs of chip-equipped shoes. These devices may not score big on store shelves anytime soon, but they won the tech battle by default in Austin because Apple didn’t give us as much as a leak. The long-predicted Apple TV set seems more distant than ever, and recent rumors of a watch-like Apple gadget weren’t exploited at this show.

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