Nazomi Loses Patent Fight Against Western Digital, Sling

, The Litigation Daily


Western Digital Corp and Sling Media Inc. have won an appeals court ruling in their patent fight with Nazomi Communications Inc., a software developer that switched its primary business model to patent licensing. Other companies may stand to benefit from the ruling, including Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Co.

In a 17-page decision issued on Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a prior ruling that Western Digital, which manufactures computer hard disk drives, and Sling, which makes TV streaming media devices, don't infringe two Nazomi patents relating to Java programming. The court ruled that U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte in San Francisco properly construed several claims in the two patents.

Wiley Rein represented Western Digital. MoFo represented Sling. Pepper Hamilton made the case for Nazomi.

A trio of former Sun Microsystems Inc. engineers founded Nazomi in 1998. The company developed software that accelerates the performance of Java-based programs. According to a 2003 article in Inside Chips, the company once boasted 30 U.S. employees. That number had dwindled to four by 2010, according to Engadget.

Nazomi sued Western Digital and Sling in February 2010, alleging they infringed Nazomi's patents by using Java acceleration technology created by one of Nazomi's rivals, ARM Ltd. That same year, Nazomi brought similar claims against companies like Samsung and LG. Even though ARM wasn't named as a defendant, it intervened in the case to protect its customers.

The litigation was consolidated before Whyte, who divided the defendants into groups. In 2012 he ruled on summary judgment that Western Digital and Sling don't infringe. In June 2013 he handed a similar win to Samsung, LG and other Nazomi targets.

Whyte's ruling regarding Western Digital and Sling went up on appeal first. The Federal Circuit heard oral arguments on Nov. 4, 2013. Deanne Maynard of Morrison & Foerster and Kevin Anderson of Wiley Rein jointly argued for the defendants. William Belanger of Pepper Hamilton argued for Nazomi.

In an interview, Anderson said that while the decision only involves two of Nazomi's targets, it likely spells victory for the other defendants.

Belanger, Nazomi's counsel, was not immediately available for comment.

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