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D.C. Appeals Court Agrees to Full Hearing on Contempt Finding Against EchoStar

In at least a temporary victory for EchoStar, the D.C. Federal Appeals Court has agreed to a full hearing on a district court finding of contempt against the company relating to TiVo's patent infringement lawsuit against it.

A three-judge panel of that court in March upheld a district court ruling that TiVo would be able to collect $300 million in past damages and push for more. EchoStar had immediately appealed it to the full court.

EchoStar was found in contempt for not disabling its DVR devices so that they did not infringe on TiVo's "time-warp" DVR technology. That came after a Texas court concluded in 2006 that EchoStar's DVRs--supplied to DISH customers--did indeed infringe on that patent.

EchoStar was "very happy" with the decision, not surprisingly, while TiVo was not. “DISH Network and EchoStar are pleased that the full Federal Circuit Court of Appeals has granted their petition for rehearing en banc," the company said. "We believe the issues that will be considered by the full court on rehearing will have a profound impact on innovation in the United States for years to come."

"We are disappointed that we do not yet have finality in this case despite years of litigation," said TiVo, "but we remain confident that the Federal Circuit's ruling in our favor will be reaffirmed after all of the judges on the Federal Circuit have had the opportunity to review the merits of this case."

Sanford Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett called the decision good news for EchoStar's DISH Network. "While the mere grant of another review offers no assurances that Dish will actually win this time around," he said, "their odds unquestionably have to be judged better than they were before (that is, when they had already lost and when en banc review faced the aforementioned long odds of being granted). Dish has been granted another time at bat."

The parties will get a chance to file new briefs and make new oral arguments.