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California satellite network systems firm loses award for damages

On Aug. 8, a Southern California U.S. District Court reversed an award for damages that had been granted to Loral Space & Communications Inc. A jury had previously found that the company should pay $283 million in damages to the satellite network systems firm ViaSat Inc. The damages award had been made against a former unit of Loral, Space Systems/Loral, with which ViaSat had agreed to collaborate on a satellite construction project. Loral is based in New York and reported $1.1 billion in revenue in 2011. ViaSat, based in Carlsbad, reported $1.11 billion in revenue in 2013.

The damages award was handed down in a patent infringement lawsuit that was filed by ViaSat in 2012. ViaSat also alleged that Loral breached a contract that it had with the firm. The judge who reversed the award said that the damages that had been calculated by the jury were not based on an "exact science" and that there was not sufficiently strong testimony as to the factual and economic predicates at trial. A new trial will be held in November to determine a new award for damages.

An analyst at a Santa Monica firm remarked that a more important matter in these proceedings is the decision that is pending with respect to ViaSat's request for an injunction against Loral. The injunction would bar the use of the technology that ViaSat is claiming that Loral wrongfully appropriated. Depending on what the outcome is on the injunction claim, the damage amount could be increased or decreased, the analyst pointed out. The president of ViaSat said that the new trial in November has the potential to result in a greater award for damages and says that the company will now have "quite a bit more time" to present evidence.

Companies who have entered into contracts with other companies and who believe that another company is in breach of the terms may want to speak with an attorney who handles business litigation. In these complex matters, the right legal representation could ensure that a company can successfully hold another entity accountable for improperly appropriating its intellectual property or for breaching a legally binding contract.

Source: Bloomberg, "Loral Gets $283 Million Patent Loss Tossed by U.S. Judge", Phil Milford, August 11, 2014

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