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Dankberg: Indecision on ViaSat-2 Builder Has Nothing To Do with Lawsuit

ViaSat Chief Executive Mark Dankberg: “If we buy a satellite that is like ViaSat-1, we will not get the results we want, so we’re not going to do it." Credit: Space Systems/Loral photo

WASHINGTON — Satellite broadband provider ViaSat Inc.’s refusal to decide on a builder for its ViaSat-2 Ka-band satellite has nothing to do with ViaSat’s insistence on stiffer contract terms from following its patent infringement lawsuit against the builder of ViaSat-1, ViaSat Chief Executive Mark D. Dankberg said March 21.

Speaking at the Satellite 2013 conference, Dankberg said intellectual property rights “is a non-issue in terms of our selection” of a builder of ViaSat-2.

“It is a big, complicated satellite,” Dankberg said. “If we buy a satellite that is like ViaSat-1, we will not get the results we want, so we’re not going to do it. That’s what the issue is.”

Carlsberg, Calif.-based ViaSat has sued manufacturer Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) for patent infringement, alleging that the manufacturer appropriated ViaSat-owned intellectual property in building a ViaSat-1 lookalike satellite for ViaSat competitor Hughes Network Systems of Germantown, Md.

Space Systems/Loral has countersued, and the dispute is making its way through a California district court.

Dankberg has said ViaSat had paid insufficient attention to its intellectual property during the ViaSat-1 satellite’s construction, allowing Space Systems/Loral to build a ViaSat-1 replicate, called Jupiter 1/EchoStar 17, for Hughes.

ViaSat has suggested that many technologies associated with high-throughput satellites are based on ViaSat patents.

ViaSat had planned to order a ViaSat-2 Ka-band satellite by late 2012. Some industry officials had speculated that one reason the company has not signed a contract is that it is insisting on patent protection terms that contractors fined onerous.

Dankberg denied this, saying ViaSat has specific ideas of what it wants in the new satellite — much more throughput than ViaSat-1, for example — and that the company’s ambitions will not be easy to satisfy with today’s satellite technology.

He said ViaSat now believes it has solved the design problems and should be ready to sign a contract in short order with one of the two contractors with whom the company is in negotiations.

 

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