LightSquared, Trimble Seek 45-Day Stay in Pending Court Case

LightSquared and Trimble Navigation Ltd. asked a federal judge today to stay discovery for 45 days in a court case to allow parties to see if they can resolve technical issues that led to the litigation and have resulted in extended proceedings before the FCC and other federal agencies. In a filing with Judge Richard Berman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Southern District of New York, LightSquared and Trimble, a manufacturer of GPS equipment, sought “the Court’s assistance in advancing settlement discussions.

“Based on recent exchanges, LightSquared and Trimble believe there is now an opportunity for the parties to have a constructive dialogue and to engage in a process aimed at a global resolution of the pending technical issues related to the use of LightSquared spectrum that gave rise to the present disputes—including this case and ongoing proceedings before the FCC and other government agencies,” today’s filing said. “To facilitate settlement discussions and help the parties advance toward a final resolution, LightSquared and Trimble ask the Court to stay discovery for 45 days. During this period, LightSquared and Trimble would work cooperatively to engage constituencies and stakeholders to discuss ways to bring full closure to the disputes that prompted this lawsuit and their disagreements before the FCC. As the parties noted for the Court at the June 9 status conference, such global discussions are necessary because the resolution of this case is necessarily bound up with resolving the pending issues before the FCC.”

“The parties therefore agree to engage in discussions that necessarily will address engineering issues such as receiver susceptibility to interference, network architecture and spectrum use, and will also discuss business concerns of all parties,” the filing added. “A stay of discovery in the litigation would substantially aid that process because many of the key personnel necessary for productive technical discussions are also deeply involved in discovery, and freeing those individuals from their litigation responsibilities would enable them to focus their efforts on supporting resolution of the pending technical issues. Moreover, the litigation expenses for all parties are significant. In these circumstances, a 45-day stay is the best way ‘to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive’ resolution of this dispute. … Of the four defendants in this case, Trimble wishes to engage in discussions and therefore joins in this request. Garmin and Deere have both stated that they are willing to engage in settlement discussions regarding the resolution of the disputed issues among the parties, but LightSquared does not know Garmin or Deere’s final position regarding a 45-day stay. The USGIC [U.S. GPS Industry Council] has not opposed a stay.”

LightSquared filed the litigation in 2013, alleging that the GPS entities concealed the fact that their receivers were manufactured poorly and could not filter out LightSquared signals (TRDaily, Nov. 1, 2013). The litigation was filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, but was later transferred to U.S. District Court.

Today’s court filing is the latest sign from LightSquared that it is interested in reaching an agreement with GPS entities on legal, regulatory, and business issues in dispute.

Last month, the company told the FCC that it believes that it and manufacturers of GPS devices “can reach a reasonable business compromise,” but it said it needs design details on GPS receivers and other information (TRDaily, June 29). LightSquared said it has hired Roberson and Associates LLC, an engineering consultant, “to help find a compromise that maximizes value for both GPS services and wireless broadband service.”

Last week, LightSquared released a modified proposed test plan prepared by Roberson and Associates for assessing the compatibility between terrestrial broadband and GPS operations (TRDaily, July 16).- Paul Kirby, paul.kirby@wolterskluwer.com