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Appeals Court backs ActiveVideo’s win against Verizon

Mon, 08/27/2012 - 3:18pm
Brian Santo

The legal tussling between Verizon and ActiveVideo has likely drawn to a close now that an appeals court has ruled largely in favor of ActiveVideo.

ActiveVideo charged that Verizon’s FiOS VOD service infringed on four of its patents. Lower courts agreed, leading to a judgment that Verizon pay damages totaling about $260 million. (Verizon, in turn, demonstrated ActiveVideo was guilty of infringing one of its patents, but the damages awarded were negligible).

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed lower court decisions that Verizon violated three of four ActiveVideo patents. The Court of Appeals reversed the lower courts’ decisions that there was infringement on the fourth patent, but noted that even Verizon considered the violation of that patent a non-determinative issue.

The net effect of the appeals decision, then, is to leave the situation as it is: ActiveVideo is vindicated, and Verizon does in fact owe the full amount of damages. Verizon has already paid an installment on those damages earlier this summer, as it was legally compelled to do.

In one of the earlier lower court actions, a Verizon patent was invalidated. The Appeals Court reversed that decision. That too was immaterial to the final outcome.

Verizon could presumably take the main issue to the Supreme Court, but the Appeals Court decision appears to leave little justification for doing so, and Verizon has issued no statement that it intends to press the matter further.

The two companies began arguing about their technology claims several years ago. ActiveVideo and Verizon had discussed the possibility of Verizon adopting ActiveVideo’s technology in its FiOS service, but no deal was ever struck. ActiveVideo subsequently ended up working with Cablevision, a key competitor of Verizon’s in those areas where both offer their respective services. ActiveVideo, in its patent infringement fight with Verizon, was put in the position of being a sort of proxy for Cablevision in the competition between the two service providers.

ActiveVideo released the following statement: “We’re gratified that the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has upheld the validity of ActiveVideo’s patents and affirmed the jury verdict and district court decisions, including nearly $260 million in damages, interest and royalties awarded to our company to date and the potential for future royalties. We’re glad to have this part of the case behind us so that we can put all of our energies into doing what ActiveVideo Networks does best: enabling our customers to deliver the best TV navigation, guides and content experiences to all of their subscribers.”

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