Portable IFE makers battle it out in court

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A legal battle between rival portable in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems manufacturers DigEcor and e.Digital is still being fought with both firms readying for further court action following recent rulings.

California-based e.Digital operated behind-the-scenes in the portable IFE market for years. The company played a role in the design and manufacture of the original DigEplayer 5500 handheld unit for system provider DigEcor, the successor to APS that was bought by US aircraft parts distributor Wencor in 2004.

But e.Digital's decision to later offer its own handheld system, dubbed eVU, directly to airlines, ignited legal action.

Last month, a partial ruling from a federal court in Utah dismissed DigEcor's claim that e.Digital breached a covenant of non-competition.

At that time, however, the court held that e.Digital had breached its contract with DigEcor by failing to deliver batteries.

DigEcor claims that e.Digital owes it a significant refund but, to date, has refused to remit this refund.

In follow-on rulings issued on 2 April, however, the court "first denied DigEcor's motion for judgment on its claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, ruling that 'as a matter of law' e.Digital had no implied duty to refrain from competing with DigEcor while the DigEplayer 5500s were not yet delivered," says e.Digital in a statement.

"The court then ruled on e.Digital's motion for summary judgment to dismiss DigEcor's three claims for unfair competition. The court denied the motion as to two of those claims, but granted it on one, dismissing DigEcor's claim for unfair competition under a Utah State law."

Finally, it says, the court denied DigEcor's motion for judgment on e.Digital's two affirmative counterclaims.

As a result of this ruling, e.Digital maintains its claims against DigEcor for defamation and tortious interference with economic relations, and says it will attempt to prove these claims at trial.

The Utah court is still considering the question of whether DigEcor's alleged damages in its claim for breach of the 'digital rights management agreement' between the parties are prohibited, or are limited to $25,000, under a remedy limitation provision in that agreement.

The court has requested an additional briefing on that issue, says e.Digital. The case is scheduled for trial beginning 4 May on all remaining issues.

DigEcor could not be immediately reached for comment.