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Dish hit with $469M verdict over commercial-skipping technology


(Reuters) — Dish Network LLC must pay $469 million for infringing two patents held by parental-control technology maker ClearPlay Inc. related to filtering material from streaming video, a jury in U.S. federal court in Utah has decided.

The jury in Salt Lake City reached its decision on Friday in ClearPlay’s lawsuit against Dish, finding that Dish’s AutoHop feature for skipping commercials on its Hopper set-top boxes is covered by ClearPlay’s patents.

While jurors found that Dish’s technology violated ClearPlay’s patent rights, they rejected ClearPlay’s contention that Dish copied its technology intentionally.

A Dish spokesperson said on Monday that the company was disappointed in the jury’s decision and will contest the verdict, potentially through an appeal. Representatives for ClearPlay did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

Salt Lake City-based ClearPlay’s technology lets users filter out adult content like sex, violence and drug use from DVDs and streaming video. It sued Dish in 2014, alleging that AutoHop’s technology for cutting commercials from DVR content violates its patents for a “method of filtering multimedia content without altering the underlying video.”

Englewood, Colorado-based Dish said that AutoHop works differently from ClearPlay’s patented technology. Dish also said the patents are invalid, arguing they are obvious based on earlier inventions or cover abstract ideas.

The case is ClearPlay Inc v. Dish Network LLC, U.S. District Court for the District of Utah.