Court hits NDS with $45 in damages

The long spat between Echostar and conditional access specialists NDS resulted in a Court decision against NDS of a trifling $45, and nowhere near the $95m that Echostar was seeking. However, NDS will face an injunction that prohibits ýNDS from engaging in illegal conduct as found by the jury. We reported on the case's verdict back in May. Now the full Court ruling is to hand.

The Court found that in the 1996-7 period both Echostar and rival DirecTV were suffering piracy of their smart card systems "including substantial piracy of the DirecTV system provided by NDS" stated Court documents

Echostar decided on a complete card swap-out of their Nagra Kudelski-supplied smart cards in 2005, which cost the broadcaster $94.6m. Echostar (and Kudelski) filed suit against NDS, seeking to hold NDS responsible for the cost of card swap-out and alleging that certain web-postings by NDS contacts necessitated that swap-out. NDS filed a counterclaim.

Earlier this year a jury found that NDS:

a. NDS did not violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act

b. NDS did violate the Communications Act;

c. NDS did violate the California Penal Code ▀▀ 593d(a) and 593e(b);

d. NDS did not violate the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organisations Act (RICO) and

e. EchoStar did not violate the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act

District Judge David Carter awarded actual damages of just $45.69 against NDS, and the minimum statutory damages of $1000 under the Communications Act verdict, and a further $500 on the Penal Code verdict.

More importantly for the overall credibility of NDS the jury did not find that NDS had acted with ýoppression, fraud or malice and did not engage in a conspiracy.

Echostar further claimed that NDS had acted unfairly and used unlawful business practices, and it is this element that has now been determined by the Court with an injunction. EchostarÝs claim of $94.63m (the cost of the card swap) was "defective on a number of grounds" said the judge's finding.