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Sure, the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t go to the Super Bowl this year, but a federal judge in Philadelphia played a key role in how the entire nation saw the game — by refusing to issue an injunction in a patent suit that would have barred the use of an aerial camera. In CF InFlight Ltd. v. Cablecam Systems Ltd., U.S. District Judge Legrome Davis concluded on Jan. 30 — two days before the big game — that the plaintiff, which holds a patent for the Skycam aerial camera system, had failed to show that it is likely to win an infringement claim against the makers of the Multi-V camera suspension system. Since the case is likely to hinge on issues of claim construction, Davis said, the court must first hold a so-called Markman hearing: “While CF InFlight has made a reasonable showing of validity and infringement of the . . . patent, Cablecam has also provided evidence of invalidity and non-infringement sufficient to require further exploration of these issues through a proper claim construction hearing. As such, the presumption of irreparable harm cannot extend.” CF InFlight argued that the Multi-V infringes on the Skycam patent by using a similar system of cables to move suspended cameras. But Cablecam responded that the Multi-V is truly innovative technology designed to remedy disadvantages of the prior technology, relied on by Skycam. Davis also concluded that the defendant would suffer more from an injunction than the plaintiff would suffer without one: “As a consequence of injunction, Cablecam would likely lose the 2004-05 football season contract with Fox, absorb the expense incurred by preparing the Super Bowl equipment, and forfeit the contract with CBS. Failure to complete the contract as agreed would damage the company’s reputation in this cottage industry.” And the public interest, Davis wrote, leaned against any injunction: “Were the injunction issued, the viewing public would lose the footage provided by the aerial three-dimensional camera angles at the most significant NFL football game of the season. . . . While there may not exist a compelling concern for public health, there is most certainly a public demand and interest in experiencing this visual perspective.” The ruling was a victory for Cablecam’s lawyers, Philadelphia partner Laurence Shtasel and Wilmington, Del., associate Steven Caponi of Blank Rome. CF InFlight’s lawyers, D.C. partners Kenneth Godlewski and Stephen Baskin of Kilpatrick Stockton, had filed the suit last September. According to the suit, CF InFlight develops camera systems for the entertainment industry, especially sports broadcasting, and is the patent assignee from cinematographer Garrett Brown, the inventor of Skycam. Brown holds about 50 patents. Cablecam is likewise a developer of camera systems and focuses primarily in the areas of television, film, commercials, and professional sports. James Rodnunsky, the company’s principal and designer of the Multi-V, has developed camera systems for nearly two decades. The suit says that CF InFlight entered into an exclusive contract in July 2003 with ESPN/ABC for the “ESPN Sunday Night Football” and “ABC Monday Night Football” telecasts. The contract precluded CF InFlight from providing similar services to Fox Sports or CBS. Fox turned to Cablecam for aerial camera work and has been using its Multi-V system since August 2003 for televising National Football League games, according to the suit. After CF InFlight declined to provide aerial camera work on the 2003-04 NFL playoff games, CBS also turned to Cablecam, the suit says. In December 2003, CBS awarded a contract to Cablecam for all but one post-season NFL game. Shannon P. Duffy is the federal courts reporter at The Legal Intelligencer, an American Lawyer Media newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected].

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