Copyright 2003 Omega Communications, Inc.
Intellectual Property Today
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, on July 21, 2003, affirmed the summary judgment of noninfringement in favor of Tele-Communications Inc., n/k/a Comcast, and UA-Columbia Cablevision of Westchester, Inc. The decision in Intellectual Property Development, Inc. and Communications Patents, Ltd. v. UA-Columbia Cablevision of Westchester and Tele-Communications Inc. ends a patent infringement lawsuit that has spanned more than eight years.
Over the course of the litigation, the case followed a tortuous path through several district judges and a multi-district litigation proceeding, and was closely monitored by the cable television industry. During this time, the plaintiffs, Intellectual Property Development, Inc. (IPD) and Communications Patents Ltd. (CPL), filed more than 50 related lawsuits in the United States against subsidiaries of Tele-Communications. Judge William H. Pauley III of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted summary judgment in January 2002. Three of the satellite actions remain pending, having been stayed in view of the appealed summary judgment.
IPD and CPL alleged that their patent, U.S. Pat. No. 4,135,202, covered a system architecture known as hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) that today is part of nearly every cable system in the country employing fiber optic technology. According to the plaintiffs, an HFC system transmits video programming to subscribers through optical fibers in an otherwise coaxial cable broadcast system. Disagreeing with the plaintiffs’ infringement contentions, the appeals court agreed with Judge Pauley that the invention claimed in the patent did not provide coverage for systems operated in the frequency range at which the accused United States systems operate.
Comcast and UA-Columbia Cablevision were represented by a team of Baker Botts L.L.P. attorneys that included Scott Partridge and Michael Hawes of the Houston office, David Wille of the Dallas office, and Neil Sirota of the New York office.