ViaSat Formally Serves SS/L with Lawsuit After Talks Stall

by

PARIS — Satellite broadband provider ViaSat Inc. on Feb. 21 formally served satellite builder Space Systems/Loral with a lawsuit alleging breach of contract and patent infringement, saying discussions between the two companies to reach an out-of-court settlement have made no progress.

The lawsuit, which says Palo Alto, Calif.-based Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) stole ViaSat technology and incorporated it into non-ViaSat satellites, including one for ViaSat’s main U.S. competitor, had been filed Feb. 1 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

But Carlsbad, Calif.-based ViaSat did not formally serve the complaint at that time, preferring to leave the door open for negotiations leading to a settlement.

In a Feb. 21 statement, ViaSat President Rick Baldridge said the talks have gone nowhere, forcing ViaSat’s hand.

“We have been clear with SS/L that any settlement discussions would need to progress expeditiously given the high stakes involved and the fact that we put SS/L on notice of these issues long ago,” Baldridge said in the statement. “Unfortunately, those discussions didn’t progress at all, so we are moving forward with the litigation.”

The ViaSat lawsuit asks for a jury trial but does not spell out how much money it is seeking from SS/L to compensate for the alleged theft of ViaSat’s intellectual property, especially the technologies contained in three ViaSat patents, the last of which was awarded Jan. 31.

The lawsuit said SS/L’s continued use of ViaSat technologies on SS/L-built satellites “will provide SS/L with more than $1 billion of ill-gotten gains.”

In a Feb. 9 interview, ViaSat Chief Executive Mark D. Dankberg declined to specify a figure, saying only that “our damages are pretty substantial.”