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Patent Claims Against EchoStar Dismissed

Decision is the latest in the dispute between the Hollywood-based company and EchoStar Communications.

June 20, 2003|From Bloomberg News

Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc., which develops on-screen program guides for cable television, Thursday lost another ruling in its continuing patent dispute with EchoStar Communications Corp.

U.S. District Judge Willis B. Hunt in Atlanta dismissed claims filed by Gemstar that accused EchoStar of infringing a patent.

The court also denied Gemstar's request to throw out antitrust claims by EchoStar, owner of the Dish Network satellite-TV service.

Hollywood-based Gemstar is accused of misusing patents to thwart competitors.

The antitrust suit is scheduled to go to trial next year. The rulings came in a lawsuit filed by Littleton, Colo.-based EchoStar in 2000, part of a series of lawsuits between the two companies over program guide technology.

Gemstar, which holds more than 190 patents for the software used to run menus that help TV viewers pick shows, sued customers and rivals to collect royalties.

Court rulings against it helped drive Gemstar shares down 88% last year and prompted major stockholder Rupert Murdoch to force out founder Henry Yuen in October.

Gemstar said Thursday that it owns the rights to the disputed patent and "intends to take appropriate steps to reinstate its claims against EchoStar."

Gemstar Chief Executive Jeff Shell, a former executive with Murdoch's Fox cable television network, is trying to settle the lawsuits, and Gemstar shares have risen 59% this year.

On Thursday, Gemstar shares fell 26 cents to close at $5.23 in Nasdaq trading. EchoStar saw its shares fall 55 cents to $35.02, also on Nasdaq.

Gemstar has reached agreements with consumer electronics maker Thomson, the maker of General Electric and RCA televisions, and TiVo Inc., maker of the digital video recorder.

Gemstar has said it is in talks with EchoStar, electronics makers Pioneer Corp. and Scientific-Atlanta Inc.

Gemstar, which also publishes TV Guide magazine, has lost key rulings before two federal courts and the International Trade Commission, where it failed to block imports of set-top boxes that it claimed were using Gemstar technology.

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