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DirecTV to Appeal $78.9M Patent Ruling

DirecTV plans to contest a $78.9 million jury verdict that found that the direct-broadcast satellite provider infringed on a patent held by Finisar.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Finisar -- which provides fiber-optic systems for high-speed-data networks -- was awarded the back damages from DirecTV last Friday.

After a two-week trial in Federal District Court, a Beaumont, Texas, jury found that DirecTV and its affiliated companies directly and willfully infringed on Finisar's information-transmission patent and awarded the sizable verdict to the company.

“We believe the jury’s verdict is wrong and represents a distortion of patent-infringement law,” DirecTV said in a prepared statement. “We are confident the facts and law support our position, and we will contest this decision through post-trial motions or on appeal. The jury’s award was substantially less than the damages claimed by Finisar, and we believe the evidence will ultimately show there was no infringement.”

The DBS provider also said it “is committed to respecting the legitimate intellectual-property rights of others, and in this case, DirecTV continues to believe that Finisar’s claims are invalid and that DirecTV’s systems were developed by its own engineers based on pre-existing technology.”

The patent in question addresses unique ways to transmit and broadcast digital information to a wide base of subscribers.

"In reaching a unanimous verdict on all counts, including willful infringement, the jurors sent a strong message regarding the claims in this case," Finisar's local trial counsel, Larry Germer, said in a prepared statement.