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Sure, the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t go to the Super Bowl this year, buta federal judge in Philadelphia nonetheless played a key role in how theentire nation would watch the game by refusing to issue an injunction ina patent lawsuit that would have barred the use of an aerial camera. In his 22-page opinion in CF InFlight Ltd. v. Cablecam Systems Ltd.,U.S. District Judge Legrome D. Davis concluded that the plaintiff –which holds the patent for the “Skycam” aerial camera system — hadfailed to show that it is likely to win a patent infringement claimagainst the makers of the “Multi-V” camera suspension system. Since the patent case is likely to hinge on issues of claimconstruction, Davis said, the court must first hold a Markman hearing. “In order to conclusively resolve the dispute with respect to either theliteral infringement or infringement under the doctrine of equivalents… this court would need to engage in a claim construction analysis,”Davis wrote. “While CF InFlight has made a reasonable showing of validity andinfringement of the … patent, Cablecam has also provided evidence ofinvalidity and non-infringement sufficient to require furtherexploration of these issues through a proper claim construction hearing.As such, the presumption of irreparable harm cannot extend, and thecourt turns its inquiry to the substantive arguments of irreparableharm.” Davis also concluded that the defendant would suffer more from aninjunction than the plaintiff would suffer from not winning aninjunction. “If an injunction is issued, Cablecam will be forced to breach itscontract with CBS,” Davis wrote. “Cablecam has incurred the expense of transporting its crew andequipment to the Super Bowl game site in Houston. As a consequence ofinjunction, Cablecam would likely lose the 2004-05 football seasoncontract with Fox, absorb the expense incurred by preparing the SuperBowl equipment, and forfeit the contract with CBS. Failure to completethe contract as agreed would damage the company’s reputation in thiscottage industry,” Davis wrote. And the public interest, Davis said, leaned against any injunction.”Were the injunction issued, the viewing public would lose the footageprovided by the aerial three-dimensional camera angles at the mostsignificant NFL football game of the season. … While there may notexist a compelling concern for public health, there is most certainly apublic demand and interest in experiencing this visual perspective,”Davis wrote. The ruling was a victory for Cablecam’s lawyers, Laurence S. Shtasel andSteven L. Caponi of Blank Rome. CF InFlight’s lawyers, Kenneth A. Godlewski and Stephen E. Baskin ofKilpatrick Stockton in Washington, D.C., filed the suit in September,alleging that Cablecam’s Multi-V camera suspension system infringes theSkycam patent. According to the suit, CF InFlight develops novel camera systems for theentertainment industry, especially sports broadcasting, and is thepatent assignee from Garrett Brown, the inventor of the Skycam. Brown, a Philadelphia inventor and cinematographer, holds about 50patents. In addition to filming professional and amateur sportingevents, his work has been used in films such as “The Shining,” “Rocky” and”Return of the Jedi.” He has won an Academy Award and Emmy awards. Cablecam is a developer of camera suspension systems and focuses itsbusiness primarily in the area of television, film, commercials andprofessional sports. James Rodnunsky, the company’s principal and thedesigner of the Multi-V camera system, has developed innovative camerasystems for nearly two decades. In addition to filming professional and amateur sporting events,Rodnunsky’s work has been used in films such as “Hook,” “Terminator 2,” “ConAir,” “Spiderman” and “Daredevil,” and he has won six Emmy awards.The suit says CF InFlight entered into an exclusive contract in July2003 with ESPN for the ESPN Sunday Night Football and ABC Monday NightFootball telecasts. The exclusivity contract precluded CF InFlight from providing similarservices to Fox Sports or CBS, both of which had expressed interest inobtaining aerial footage of NFL games without the express permission ofESPN, according to the suit. Fox turned to Cablecam for aerial camera work and has been using itsMulti-V system since August 2003 for televising NFL football games,according to the suit. Beginning in October 2003, CBS was awarded the rights to televise manyof the 2003-04 NFL playoff games and the February 2004 Super Bowl. CBS later asked CF InFlight to provide aerial camera work on thepost-season NFL football games. When CF InFlight refused, CBS turned toCablecam, the suit says. In December 2003, CBS awarded a contract to Cablecam for all but onepost-season NFL game. In an injunction hearing last week, CF InFlight’s lawyers argued thatthe Multi-V infringes on the Skycam patent by using a similar system ofcables to move the suspended cameras. But Cablecam’s lawyers argued that the Multi-V is truly new technology. Skycam, they argued, relied on longstanding technology in the field,while the Multi-V system employs innovative techniques intended toremedy the known disadvantages to the prior technology. Davis concluded that the issues were too complex to decide in anexpedited hearing. “A conclusion of literal infringement at this juncture would prematurelydetermine whether the Multi-V operational structure is fundamentallysimilar to the Skycam device,” Davis wrote. “Understandably, the two camera systems provide a comparable function,but the intricacies of their operation, design, and construction mayprove different from those identified in the [Skycam] patent.”

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