EchoStar/NDS Case Underway Today

A trial pitting EchoStar and its signal security provider NagraStar against conditional access giant NDS Group gets underway today in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, a case that has been branded by some as one of the biggest industrial espionage cases to hit the American court system.

EchoStar and NagraStar are seeking $1 billion in damages in the litigation, alleging that NDS compromised the conditional access technology utilized by the companies. Not only does the case involve the sensitive issue of satellite piracy, but also claims of sensitive corporate leaks, the employment of pirates themselves and spying.

In their complaint, EchoStar and NagraStar allege that NDS cracked their access card technology, and extracted proprietary codes within the system. What's more, NDS personnel then designed and built a pirating device that was capable of reprogramming those access cards, claims the litigation. Those devices were then allegedly distributed to the pirating community.

Press reports said key executives, including DISH Network/EchoStar CEO Charlie Ergen, could take the stand. There were no comments from the companies prior to the trial's start.