Robert Van Nest
Late last year, Van Nest negotiated a favorable settlement for Comcast Cable Communications LLC and other cable providers after securing several pre-trial victories in a sweeping patent infringement case brought against them by C-Cation Technologies.
Van Nest led the defense of Comcast, Charter Communications Inc., CableOne Inc. and Cequel Communications LLC in the suit targeting the companies' high speed data and telephony services.
The lawsuit sought damages well into the nine figures, though Van Nest declined to share the exact amount. C-Cation Technologies v. Comcast Cable Communications LLC, 11-30 (E.D. Texas, filed Jan. 25, 2011).
During the first week of December, Van Nest and the parties gathered in Texas to prepare for trial and quickly reached an agreement.
That week, Van Nest also flew to Washington, D.C. to argue before a circuit panel on behalf of Google Inc. in a $6 billion patent and copyright case he successfully defended against Oracle Corp. Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., 10-03561 (N.D. Cal., filed Aug. 12, 2010).
"That was a busy week," he said.
In the Google case, Van Nest shielded the technology giant against Oracle's claim that Google infringed its Java application programming interface packages, or APIs. U.S. District Judge William Alsup agreed with Google that APIs are not copyrightable. Van Nest argued against Oracle's appeal.
He has had his hand in many of the leading IP issues of the day. Besides Google, his client roster includes Intel Corp. and Genentech Inc. Van Nest considers himself "extremely lucky."
"They are going to be involved in cutting edge issues," he said, "and therefore you're going to be involved in cutting edge issues."
When Ramani defended clients Netflix Inc. and Roku Inc. before the International Trade Commission over a patent infringement claim from Rovi Corp., he tried something a little different. He told the ITC the matter didn't fall in its jurisdiction.
In May 2012, Rovi filed a complaint to the ITC claiming that the two media streaming companies - along with several others, including LG Electronics Inc. in Korea and Vizio Inc. in Irvine - infringed on Rovi's patents by selling products that contained "interactive program guide[s] and parental control technology." In the matter of Certain Products Containing Interactive Program Guide and Parental Control Technology, 337-TA-845 (ITC, filed May 1, 2012).
"When you watch TV and you hit the remote and that little menu pulls up and shows what's playing and when and on what channel?" Ramani said. "That."
Rovi asserted that Netflix, in shipping out a software development kit for application installation in foreign developed products, infringed on the Tariff Act by importing televisions and tablets from companies like Vizio.
"It was an interesting theory [from Rovi]," Ramani said. "It struck us early on that the theory would be vulnerable to importation attack and patent specific defense."
Ramani argued that Netflix is a domestic company and the matter had no business being seen by the ITC.
The ITC agreed.
The commission's administrative law judge ruled in favor of Netflix and the named respondents in June 2013, a decision which was later confirmed by the ITC in November.
Ramani said the decision shapes how the ITC will move forward on similar cases with loose connections to foreign imports.
"This case says that, especially in a digital streaming age, you need to have a greater connection to overseas activity to be brought before the ITC."