AT&T, the American multinational company is one of the biggest companies in the world. It is ranked in the top 25 companies in the world. The company has a workforce of around 2,50,000. The telecommunication is highly reputed and a company of its size and expanse must comprise of some of the best professionals.
Then how can a huge conglomerate like AT&T pay $40 million in fines due to docket error?
An error as sheepish as this makes the company look amateurish and basically has caused the company to become a laughing stock in the market.
How do infringement occur?
The company had infringed a patent owned by Two Way Media. This patent was related to the tracking of what the customers viewed on video streaming services.
Basically, this invention is like suppose you are watching something online on the StarSports website then this invention can track what you are watching.Think that you are trying to follow the cricket superbowl channel match online from your office and your checking it online on the Star Sports website, and you are able to track this. So the giant infringed this invention with its service “U-verse TV”.
Two Way Media had sued AT&T for the infringement and initiated a legal proceeding. The court ruled against AT&T and had asked them to pay $27.5 million as compensation. Two other companies Akamai Technologies and Limelight Networks Inc, were also part of the proceeding but they had settled earlier with the gaming company.
An appeal was supposed to be filed by AT&T against the ruling. But due to “misleading notices” the appeal was not able to be filed against the ruling and the fine had to be paid. They were not able to file an appeal within the stipulated time which is 30 days. The law firm Sidley Austin LLP, who were hired by AT&T for the proceeding accidentally came across the error after a period of 51 days from the verdict.
On realizing the error, an appeal was filed and the reason cited was that AT&T were dependent on the notification by the court through its docketing software. AT&T stated that the label for document was “motion to seal”, which was incorrect.
The Verdict :
AT&T have been told that the reason for the delay by them to file an appeal was insufficient. AT&T have been asked to pay the fine of $27.5 million plus the interest which amounts to $40 million.
A company the magnitude and highly reputed as AT&T cannot commit such an error even though it can be told that they had hired the services of one of the top law firms in the USA. A team of 18 lawyers are believed to be associated with this case and this error has occurred under their noses. This error was went unnoticed across 18 pairs of eyes which is rather a strange thing in itself. Errors do happen and it is time for AT&T to cough up the damages.