Dish Network Corp. v. Arch Specialty Insurance Co.

Plaintiffs DISH Network Corporation and DISH Network LLC (Dish) filed a diversity action in the District of Colorado seeking a judgment declaring that Dish's insurers had a duty under Colorado law to defend Dish in a patent infringement suit. The district court held that the underlying complaint did not allege an "advertising injury" under the policies issued to Dish by the five defendant Insurers. The court granted Insurers' motion for summary judgment, and Dish appealed. In its amended complaint, Ronald A. Katz Tech. Licensing (RAKTL, the Plaintiff in the underlying suit) alleged that Dish had infringed one or more claims in each of twenty­ three patents. Applying Colorado law, the district court concluded that a claim for patent infringement could "properly give rise to coverage, or even the specter of coverage, such that an insurer will have a duty to defend." For purposes of the summary judgment motion, the court ruled that RAKTL's reference to "customer service functions" in its complaint was sufficient to allege that Dish engaged in "advertising." The court granted summary judgment for Insurers without addressing the third element of its test-­- causation --or the additional arguments certain insurers had raised under their individual policies. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit concluded that the RATKL complaint potentially alleged advertising injury arising from the misappropriation of advertising ideas. The Court therefore reversed and remanded for further proceedings: "the scope of advertising injury coverage in this case is at least ambiguous with regard to patent infringement allegations. Although the cases are rare in which an allegedly infringed patent is itself an advertising idea rather than merely an advertised product, ... we hold that '[d]epending on 'the context of the facts and circumstances of th[e] case,' patent infringement can qualify as an advertising injury if the patent 'involve[s] any process or invention which could reasonably be considered an 'advertising idea.'"