Dish wins $4.4M piracy verdict in Florida

Dish Networks satellites
Dish Network and several Chinese broadcast companies have won a $4.4 million verdict against a Florida retailer accused of piracy.

Dish Network and several Chinese broadcast companies have won a $4.4 million verdict against a Florida retailer accused of piracy. 

According to a Dish announcement, a Florida bankruptcy court ruled that Amit Bhalla, an alleged retailer of IPTV streaming devices with unauthorized channels, cannot use a bankruptcy case to shield himself from liability stemming from a 2015 piracy lawsuit.

In 2016, a California federal court issued a permanent injunction against the Chinese manufacturers of the TVpad, preventing them from distributing several Chinese programming networks, China Central Television (CCT) and Hong Kong’s Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB), on so-called TVpad devices. Dish had exclusive rights to distribute these networks in the U.S. via its Sling TV virtual MVPD service. 

The court later ordered the TVpad’s manufacturers and distributors (Bhalla being one of them) to stop manufacturing, selling and promoting the devices. It also ordered them to pay $55 million in damages to Dish, TVB and CCTV for infringing on copyrighted content. 

Bhalla sought refuge in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida, but didn’t find it. The court issued a summary judgment ruling that the retailer must pay the plaintiffs $4.4 million for copyright and trademark infringement. 

“This ruling sends an important message to retailers who think they can get away with profiting off pirated content: You will eventually be held accountable, and a bankruptcy filing will not protect you,” said Samuel Tsang, VP of operations for TVB USA. “Our hope is that, as a result of this ruling, retailers will stop selling content obtained through illegal means and instead serve their customers with legal, reliable content and devices.”