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Ergen wins reversal of $469m patent suit

March 24, 2023

By Chris Forrester

Barely two weeks ago on March 10th, Charlie Ergen’s DBS DISH Network lost a Utah jury verdict on a patent lawsuit with plaintiff ClearPlay. The verdict saw the Court award ClearPlay $469 million (€434m) in compensation. The action alleged that DISH’s ‘AutoHop/Hopper’ functions used ClearPlay’s patented skipping feature.

ClearPlay’s technology allowed users to skip what parents/users deemed to be unacceptable or offensive in video content.

Two weeks on, and a Utah appeal judge, US District Judge David Nuffer, has reversed the verdict. The judge has agreed with DISH Network’s defence that its technology works differently and that no reasonable jury could find an infringement.

“Because the methods of the Accused Products do not practice the Asserted Claims of the 970 and 799 Patents and do not directly infringe the Asserted Claims, ClearPlay’s claims for literal infringement, infringement under the doctrine of equivalents, induced infringement, and willful infringement fail as a matter of law,” said the Court in its reversal document.

The original suit has been running for almost 10 years and was lodged in 2014. ClearPlay accused Dish of infringing two of its patents and which it had been offering to clients since 2012.

The initial verdict against DISH contained the statement that DISH had not purposely violated the Salt Lake City-based ClearPlay patent.

After the verdict was overturned, DISH Network issued a statement on March 21st:

“The judge in the ClearPlay v. Dish Network case ruled orally that he will grant Dish’s Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law. The ruling (sometimes called a directed verdict) means that the Court determined that ClearPlay failed to put on sufficient evidence to support the conclusion that Dish infringed the asserted patent claims. As a result, the jury’s March 10, 2023 verdict and damages award are moot. Dish has stood firm in its belief that it did not infringe ClearPlay’s patents, and is gratified by the Court’s ruling.”

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