On October 3, U.S. District Court Judge Shira Scheindlin issued an 87-page order that tossed much of TRA’s patent infringement law suit against WPP’s Kantar and related entities that accused them of misappropriating TRA’s patents and trade secrets to create a competitor service called RapidView.
Thirteen days later in a terse two-sentence order, Scheindlin basically said never mind and ordered her earlier order withdrawn. The latest ruling, issued Wednesday also directed the Westlaw and LexisNexis services to remove the October 3 Order from their databases. Like it never existed.
That was it. The judge gave no explanation for expunging the previous order—which decimated TRA’s case, or would have if it stood—from the case file and U.S. legal annals.
However, the bizarre about face came a week after TRA asked the Judge to reconsider. The TV audience research company, now owned by TiVo, asserted that Scheindlin's October 3 ruling was flawed by numerous "erroneous conclusions." TRA also said Scheindlin forgot to hold an oral hearing before issuing her initial order that she had previously okayed and that the company said would have helped it clarify a number of its arguments.
By not holding the oral argument TRA had been deprived of a “full opportunity to be heard,” the company said last week.
The original order came in response to Kantar’s request in June for a summary judgment that Kantar hoped would dismiss the case before trial.
The lengthy Oct. 3 order tossed many but not all of the allegations made by TRA. Scheindlin ruled then that Kantar had not infringed on TRA patents nor had it misappropriated any TRA trade secrets. She also ruled that Kantar was not responsible for a devaluation of TRA resulting in a $20 million purchase price for TiVo last year. TRA said that but for anti-competitive actions of Kantar it would have been worth closer to ten times that amount. Scheindlin ruled that assertion was “sheer speculation.” Scheindlin let stand breach of contract and fiduciary duty claims for which TRA said it would request a trial.
Neither TRA nor Kantar had any comment on the latest twist in the two-year-old case, which began after talks between the parties concerning WPP’s possible acquisition of TRA broke down and Kantar launched its RapidView service.