Jury awards $36M in fight over mathematical formula

Published February 16, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - A Pinellas jury awarded $36-million in damages Thursday in an intellectual property case, making it one of the largest verdicts in the county's history.

The case involved a fight over a mathematical formula that compresses data for satellite transmissions.

In April 1999, Brent, Glenn and Joy Kovar - the majority shareholders of Satellite Access Systems Inc. - sold their stock to another technology firm, Net Command Tech, Inc.

Brent Kovar, the inventor of an algorithm that compresses data for easier transmission between satellite and receiver, then tried to sell his technology to another bidder, said the plaintiff's lawyer David Sockol, who represented Satellite Access Systems, whose employees became shareholders in Net Command Tech.

"And then after he sold it, six months later, he just decided he didn't like the deal," said Sockol, who added it would be difficult to collect the entire $36-million.

After more than an hour of a deliberation, a six-person jury found the technology was no longer Kovar's to sell and awarded SAS $12-million. Jury awards in Florida can be tripled if clear and convincing evidence is presented that proves criminal intent.

Attempts to reach the Kovars and their attorneys were unsuccessful.