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Loral Space & Communications won a spectacular reversal of the ViaSat action on August 8th – as far as damages are concerned – and which alleged that Loral’s then subsidiary Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) had misused ViaSat-owned patents. Back in April ViaSat had been awarded $283 million damages by a jury, which found wholly in ViaSat’s favour.
ViaSat supplies broadband services by satellite for its clients, and is unrelated to the Scandinavian DTH company of the same name.
The US District Court judge rejected the jury award of $283 million, but left the original verdict stand that Space Systems/Loral had misused ViaSat’s patents.
Judge Marilyn L Huff ruled that a new trial would be limited to the amount of damages Loral should pay ViaSat, and set a trial date for November.
The announcement from Loral talks about the earlier trial as a “miscarriage of justice” and struck out the decision and award. The full statement from Loral says: “[the court] vacated in full the $283 million jury verdict against SSL. The court ordered that a new jury trial be held on the amount of damages and has tentatively scheduled the trial to proceed in November 2014. The court deferred, until August 26th, 2014, argument on ViaSat’s motion seeking an injunction to prevent the manufacture and sale by SSL of additional satellites that infringe ViaSat’s patents.”
“We are pleased with the court’s decision, as it is an important first step in rectifying the injustice resulting from the April 2014 trial,” said Michael B. Targoff, Vice Chairman of Loral. “Not only do we believe that the jury’s damages award was excessive, but we continue to believe that we have strong grounds for challenging the jury’s liability findings on appeal.”
This is not the way ViaSat sees the situation. A statement from them on August 11th said they welcomed the new hearing where it would be possible to argue for a greater penalty, from a new jury. The company said the new trial would start on the basis that the patents were violated, and that the details of the misuse would be explained in “excruciating detail” to the new jury.
The dispute between the two parties centres on SS/L and how it allegedly used ViaSat patents on other, non-ViaSat satellites.