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Comcast Wins Appeal in Patent Infringement Suit

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, on July 21, 2003, affirmed the summary judgment of noninfringement in favor of Tele-Communications, Inc., n/k/a Comcast, and UA-Columbia Cablevision of Westchester, Inc. The decision in Intellectual Property Development, Inc. and Communications Patents, Ltd. v. UA-Columbia Cablevision of Westchester and Tele-Communications, Inc. ends a patent infringement lawsuit that has spanned more than eight years.

Over the course of the litigation, the case followed a tortuous path through several district judges and a multi-district litigation proceeding, and was closely monitored by the cable television industry. During this time, the plaintiffs, Intellectual Property Development, Inc. (IPD) and Communications Patents, Ltd. (CPL), filed more than 50 related lawsuits in the United States against subsidiaries of Tele-Communications. Judge William H. Pauley III of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted summary judgment in January 2002. Three of the satellite actions remain pending, having been stayed in view of the appealed summary judgment.

IPD and CPL alleged that their patent, U.S. Pat. No. 4,135,202, covered a system architecture known as hybrid fiber coax (HFC) that today is part of nearly every cable system in the country employing fiber optic technology. According to the plaintiffs, an HFC system transmits video programming to subscribers through optical fibers in an otherwise coaxial cable broadcast system. Disagreeing with the plaintiffs’ infringement contentions, the appeals court agreed with Judge Pauley that the invention claimed in the patent did not provide coverage for systems operated in the frequency range at which the accused United States systems operate.

Comcast and UA-Columbia Cablevision were represented by a team of Baker Botts L.L.P. attorneys that included Scott Partridge and Michael Hawes of the Houston office, David Wille of the Dallas office, and Neil Sirota of the New York office.

The plaintiffs were represented by Marc Hansen of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, & Evans, PLLC of Washington, D.C., and David Zaslowsky of Baker & McKenzie of New York.

Baker Botts is a leading international law firm, recognized for its energy, intellectual property, corporate and trial practices. Founded in 1840, Baker Botts has more than 650 lawyers with offices in Austin, Baku, Dallas, Houston, London, Moscow, New York, Riyadh and Washington, and its clients include nearly half of the Fortune 100 ®.

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