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Loral Gets $283 Million Patent Loss Tossed by U.S. Judge

Loral Space & Communications Inc. won a reversal of a $283 million damages award against its former unit Space Systems/Loral, as the winning company, ViaSat Inc., sought a court order barring further patent infringement.

ViaSat, a satellite network systems firm, sued in 2012 for patent infringement and breach of contract. It won a trial and the jury award in April. U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff in San Diego on Aug. 8 struck down the award and set a new trial on damages for November.

Huff wrote that damages awards aren’t an “exact science” and that trial testimony “was not based on sound economic and factual predicates.”

A pending decision on ViaSat’s request for an injunction barring the use of the technology at issue “is more important” than last week’s damages ruling, said analyst Michael Crawford of B Riley & Co. in Santa Monica, California.

“The amount of damages could be decreased, but it could be increased, too,” Crawford said by phone.

The case arose from a dispute after the companies agreed to collaborate on a satellite construction project, according to court papers.

New York-based Loral, which operates telecommunications satellites, reported $1.1 billion in revenue for fiscal 2011. ViaSat, based in Carlsbad, California, provides wireless systems and logged $1.11 billion in revenue last year.

ViaSat rose 25 cents to $57.60 at 3:25 p.m. in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. Loral fell 5 cents to $73.75.

“We don’t agree” with the judge’s latest decision on damages, said Richard Baldridge, ViaSat’s president, in a phone interview. “We’ll have quite a bit more time” to present evidence at the new trial, with the prospect of more damages than before, he said.

The case is ViaSat v. Space Systems/Loral Inc., 12-cv-00260, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).

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