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Judge voids $469 million verdict against Dish Network

A Dish Network satellite dish.
A Dish Network satellite dish. (Photo by Cody Logan via Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)

A federal judge overseeing a patent infringement lawsuit against Dish Network tossed a $469 million award for damages imposed by a civil jury earlier this month.

The judge, David Nuffer of Utah, issued his order Tuesday while considering a motion filed by Dish that claimed the plaintiff, ClearPlay, had not proven through evidence that Dish infringed on its patents related to certain video-skipping technologies.

ClearPlay alleged Dish’s use of a technology called AutoHop infringed on two patents related to skipping through profane or indecent content on streaming video services. The company alleged AutoHop violated its patents because it allowed Dish subscribers to skip through commercial breaks on content recorded from television channels.

Earlier this month, a jury sided with ClearPlay, finding Dish violated the company’s patents and awarding the plaintiff $469 million. As part of its verdict, the jury found Dish’s violation of ClearPlay’s patents was not done on purpose.

Dish quickly filed a motion to have the jury’s verdict overturned, arguing what the jury found wasn’t in line with a violation of the law, and alleging ClearPlay failed to prove with concrete evidence that what Dish did amounted to illegal patent infringement.

On Tuesday, Nuffer agreed with Dish, dismissing the verdict and the judgment against the satellite broadcaster.

“Dish has stood firm in its belief that it did not infringe ClearPlay’s patents, and is gratified by the court’s ruling,” a Dish spokesperson said in a statement e-mailed to The Desk and other media outlets.

It wasn’t immediately known what ClearPlay’s next move in the case will be, or if it intends to abandon its legal efforts against Dish.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).