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Attorneys from San Francisco’s Keker & Van Nest helped Comcast overcome a patent lawsuit Thursday in a Texas federal district considered one of the least defendant-friendly in the country. Caritas Technologies, of Waunakee, Wis., had accused Comcast in July 2005 of infringing on a patent that dealt with using the Internet to set up conference calls. Caritas had proposed a $2.2 billion settlement, said Daralyn Durie, the Keker partner representing Philadelphia-based Comcast in the case. On Oct. 18, U.S. District Judge David Folsom of the Eastern District of Texas in Texarkana found that Comcast had not infringed on Caritas’ patent. On Thursday, Folsom formally entered that judgment. Caritas’s attorney, Lee Carl Bromberg of Boston’s Bromberg & Sunstein, did not respond to a call seeking comment Friday. Folsom found that Caritas’ patent dealt with calls made over the traditional telephone system and did not involve calls made over the Internet, a technology also known as VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol. Comcast uses VoIP technology for its Digital Voice service, which has 2.1 million subscribers across the country, according to the company’s last quarterly earnings statement, dated Oct. 26. If Caritas had won the suit, it’s likely they would have sued other major VoIP providers, Durie said. Durie did not know how the suit’s outcome would affect pending VoIP patent lawsuits, but said the case was “significant just because there aren’t a lot of wins” in that district for defendants. “There’s a perception that it’s hard to win a case in Eastern District,” she said. “People worry about whether they’re going to get a fair hearing. I think this is good in terms of demonstrating that even as a defendant you can win cases there.”

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