NDS v Nagrastar, nominal damages

A jury in a US District Court in California has exonerated NDS Group companies in the lawsuit brought by satellite operator EchoStar and Nagrastar, the joint venture between EchoStar and Kudelski Group. The level of damages claimed by the plaintiffs, widely reported as amounting to over $1 billion, has ultimately resulted in an award in actual damages of $45.69 or, in statutory damages, of $1000, relating to a single incident involving a test card used by NDS.

In a statement, NDS said that it was pleased that the four-week long trial in which it faced what it described as “baseless allegations, widely repeated and exaggerated to suggest the involvement of our majority shareholder News Corporation,” had ended in a resounding affirmation of NDS and its business ethics and proper conduct.

“NDS has been at the forefront of fighting pay-TV piracy for the last decade, on the technological front, as well as on the legislative and law enforcement fronts. We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to achieve our current record of zero piracy,” continued the statement. “We have stated consistently throughout the course of this trial that the piracy of EchoStar was the result of inferior technology arising from inadequate investment in research and development by Kudelski. This position has been validated with today's verdict.”

Echostar commented: “We are pleased that after four weeks of testimony on all the facts, the jury concluded that NDS violated the Federal Communications Act and the California Penal Code. We will continue to vigorously prosecute those individuals and companies that engage in stealing our satellite signals. While we are disappointed in the jury’s damages award, we are pleased that NDS will be responsible for our attorney fees in this case, and that we were completely vindicated on NDS’ meritless counterclaims.

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