A Rare Miss for Forgent

Forgent Networks may have come up empty in its lawsuit against EchoStar Satellite LLC over a digital video recorder (DVR) patent, but that has been the exception rather than the rule. In fact, the Austin, Texas-based intellectual property specialist recently has come out on top against several other sizable satellite and cable interests. (See EchoStar Wins Patent Spat.)

The case with EchoStar stems from a Forgent patent, No. 6,285,746 B1 (PDF), which described a "Computer Controlled Video System Allowing Playback During Recording" as well as a "teleconferencing system" that receives incoming messages and routes them to various "output functions" -- including video, audio, and computer display. If you like diagrams, this is a document for you.

This week, a Texas jury returned a verdict in favor of EchoStar, finding Forgent's patent "invalid" in its case against the satellite TV service provider.

In response, Forgent said it disagreed with the ruling and is assessing its options, but did not say whether those options might include an appeal.

Although Forgent missed on EchoStar, it has enjoyed more legal success against other video service providers, including some larger than EchoStar.

A Forgent official confirmed that DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) had agreed earlier this month to pay $8 million as part of a settlement that gives the DBS giant a license for Forgent's DVR IP.

In late April, Forgent won a $20 million settlement tied to the same '746 DVR patent against group of high and mighty defendants that included Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Charter Communications Inc. , Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), CableOne , Cox Communications Inc. , Digeo Inc. , Scientific Atlanta , and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC).

How thrilled Forgent is about the sum generated from its successful settlements is difficult to gauge. According to EchoStar, Forgent was seeking more than $200 million in damages.

Forgent will take in a healthy sum its recent, successful litigation against DirecTV and a swath of cable interests. Surely, it was seeking more. But $28 million isn't a bad month at the office.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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