Patent Win for EchoStar Communications - Rare Finding of Patent Invalidity in Eastern District of Texas

5/22/2007

IP Due Diligence, Litigation, and Patent Litigation

Press Release

Firm successfully defends EchoStar in suit over origins of DVR technology; Eight-person jury took barely an hour to reject claims by patent holding company Forgent Networks, which had sought $205 million in damages

TYLER, TEX. (May 22, 2007) – A team of Morrison & Foerster attorneys and their co-counsel have won dismissal of a patent infringement case brought against client EchoStar Communication Corp. after a Texas jury took just over an hour to find the plaintiff’s patent invalid.  It was only the second time on record that a jury in the Eastern District of Texas had handed down a defense win in a patent case by finding the patent at issue invalid.

The unanimous verdict by the eight-person jury was returned in Tyler, Texas 100 miles east of Dallas, under U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis.

Plaintiff Forgent Networks, of Austin, Texas, a patent-holding company, sued major satellite and cable companies, including EchoStar, in 2005, claiming that their use of DVR (digital video recorder) technology infringed on a 2001 Forgent patent.  

More than a dozen other cable operators – including Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Cox, Charter, Digeo, Motorola and Scientific Atlanta – had recently settled with Forgent for tens of millions of dollars.  Satellite TV rival DirectTV reached its own settlement with Forgent just prior to trial for an estimated $8 million.

EchoStar (NASDAQ: DISH), based in Englewood, Colo., decided to fight Forgent’s claims, which exceeded $205 million in alleged damages.

Rachel Krevans, a litigation partner in Morrison & Foerster’s San Francisco office who led the trial team together with Otis Carroll of the Tyler, Texas firm of Ireland, Carroll & Kelley, P.C. said EchoStar did not dispute infringement at trial, but instead argued that Forgent’s patent was itself invalid.

“We demonstrated to the jury that Forgent’s patent was void on three distinct grounds:  written description, anticipation, and obviousness,” Ms. Krevans said. “The swift and unanimous ruling of the jury vindicates EchoStar’s decision to fight this meritless lawsuit.  We are gratified by their verdict, which demanded a thorough reading of quite complex technology issues.”

In addition to Ms. Krevans, the Morrison & Foerster attorneys representing EchoStar included Charles Barquist, a litigation partner in the firm’s Los Angeles office; San Francisco litigation partner Jason Crotty; and Scott Llewellyn, a Denver-based litigation partner. 

EchoStar’s in-house legal counsel on the case was Jeffrey Blum.

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