NDS wins bitter Echostar case

Our headline is not quite correct in that NDS was ordered by the Santa Ana jury in the Echostar vs NDS piracy case to pay just $1500 in damages. NDS’ attorney’s said NDS had been completely vindicated on the whole lawsuit, and few could argue with that.

Jurors had deliberated for a single day before ruling wholly in favour of NDS on the majority of charges brought in the suit by Echostar’s DISH pay-TV operation. However, the jury found that NDS had hacked Echostar’s conditional access system, with the damages awarded representing the statutory damages for the cost of a single piece of Echostar’s anti-theft system.

Nagra Kudelski’s NagraStar j-v was a co-plaintiff in the action, which had alleged that satellite television technology company NDS had deliberately broken into its network. NagraStar was awarded no damages.

NDS had to pay Echostar’s legal costs.

There was an 11th hour panic attack when it was revealed that a juror in the trial had spoken to an NDS attorney, and that the Court was considering a retrial, but at the end of the day that anxiety came to nothing. It seems a female member of the jury had wished the NDS’ lawyers “good luck” on exiting the court precincts. Judge David Carter interviewed the juror but decided no further action was needed.

Nevertheless, the verdict must come with a huge sigh of relief for Dr Abe Peled and his team.

Echostar’s Dish statement was subdued. "We are pleased that after four weeks of testimony on all the facts, the jury concluded that NDS violated the Federal Communications Act and the California Penal Code. We will continue to vigorously prosecute those individuals and companies that engage in stealing our satellite signals. While we are disappointed in the jury's damages award, we are pleased that NDS will be responsible for our attorney fees in this case, and that we were completely vindicated on NDS' meritless counterclaims."