Deere, Trimble sued in federal bankruptcy court

Published online: Nov 17, 2013
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Bankrupt LightSquared sued leaders in the GPS industry Nov. 8, including Deere & Co and Garmin, saying they kept mum about interference concerns stemming from LightSquared's wireless network until the company had already pumped $4 billion into building it, reports Reuters.

In a 65-page lawsuit in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York, where LightSquared is fighting to keep control of its spectrum, the company alleged that farm equipment maker Deere, and GPS companies Garmin and Trimble Navigation Ltd led it to believe its network would not interfere with global positioning system devices.

The complaint comes on the heels of a similar lawsuit against the GPS industry by Phil Falcone's Harbinger Capital, LightSquared's controlling shareholder.

Last month, LightSquared received permission from the bankruptcy judge overseeing its Chapter 11 case to pause the Harbinger lawsuit so that LightSquared could decide whether it wanted to join the suit or bring claims of its own.

In Friday's filing, LightSquared says the companies made "promises, agreements and representations" over the 10 years that LightSquared spent building its network, all to the effect that a wireless network would not cause interference with GPS devices.

But in 2010, when LightSquared was close to deploying its network, the GPS industry changed its tune, the lawsuit says. As a result, the Federal Communications Commission revoked LightSquared's license to operate its spectrum, and the company was forced into bankruptcy in 2012.

"This case . is about how those three GPS manufacturers waited until those billions were invested in the necessary network infrastructure before then breaking their prior promises, reneging on their prior agreements and disavowing their prior representations," LightSquared says.

The lawsuit alleges that the only reason the interference concerns exist is that the GPS devices encroach upon the spectrum that LightSquared is licensed to operate. The nine-count complaint, which also names industry groups the U.S. GPS Industry Council and the Coalition to Save Our GPS as defendants, alleges breach of contract, tortuous interference and other claims.

A spokesman for Deere declined to comment, while a spokeswoman for Trimble did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A representative for Garmin could not immediately be reached.

Source: www.precisionag.com