On July 9, 2012, a federal district court in New York dismissed Dish Network’s copyright and contract claims against Twentieth Century Fox and its copyright claims against CBS and NBC, based on improper venue. Dish Network, LLC v. ABC, No. 12 Civ. 4155 (LTS) (S.D.N.Y. July 9, 2012). Dish’s claims stem from its “Auto Hop” feature, also known as an “ad zapper,” which allows Dish subscribers to skip over commercials on programs saved to their DVRs. Venue had been at issue in the case since Dish filed a lawsuit in New York the same day that Fox and other television networks filed in California.
The court ruled these claims would best be litigated in California. Rejecting Dish’s argument that it had won the race to the courthouse, the court found that Dish’s New York lawsuit “was motivated by a fear of imminent legal action by the networks and was, thus, improperly anticipatory.” Dish had filed suit in New York on May 24, just hours before the television networks filed suit in Los Angeles and less than 24 hours after a Hollywood Reporter article “conveyed the unmistakable impression that a legal showdown was inevitable.”
However, the court allowed Dish’s contract claims against CBS and NBC to remain in New York because those networks have yet to assert contract claims in California. In addition, because ABC has not yet filed suit against Dish, Dish’s claims against ABC will remain in New York for the time being.