TV firms sue man for €9.2m over 'no fee' cable

A legal action against a Galwayman who allegedly provided TV equipment allowing the public to get free cable channels is to be transferred to the Commercial Court.

Thomas Roddy, with addresses at Lower Salthill, Galway, and Crenane Bridge, Ballaghderreen, Co Roscommon, is being sued by four subscription cable TV companies for allegedly costing them up to €9.2m by selling equipment enabling free access to their services.

Mr Roddy is facing actions by UPC Communications Ireland Ltd, East Point Business Park, Dublin 3, and three Swiss registered companies -- Nagravision SA, Nagracard SA, and Kudelski SA -- which all provide services controlling access to digital TV and broadband internet.

Mr Roddy claims to be a student teacher suffering from depressive episodes.

But, just after he had signed himself in for holistic therapy, it was discovered that €200,000 was being "squirrelled away" from at least 15 bank accounts in his name, Mr Justice Peter Kelly was told on Tuesday by counsel for the companies.

The judge granted applications by the companies to transfer their proceedings against Mr Roddy to the Commercial Court.

Counsel for the companies said his clients believed their loss of opportunity due to Mr Roddy's activities amounted to some €9.2m. It had never been suggested Mr Roddy had a substantial defence to the case, counsel added.

Counsel for Mr Roddy said the defence was denying all the claims "as it stands", and he asked for time to take instructions from his client as to how matters should move from here. There was an issue concerning Mr Roddy's psychiatric condition, he added.

Judge Kelly adjourned the proceedings for a week to allow instructions be taken from Mr Roddy.

It is claimed Mr Roddy was involved in providing services -- hardware, software and websites -- which assisted others to receive cable and MMDS services without paying subscriptions.

Such "protection-defeating services" included the alleged importing, marketing, selling and distribution of set-top boxes (STBs ) with a particular software enabling persons to gain unauthorised access to a range of digital cable and MMDS subscription services.

The companies last June secured a court order to search and seize goods from a premises used by Mr Roddy at Ballymount Cross Industrial Estate, Dublin, but claimed their agents were frustrated from carrying out that order as Mr Roddy allegedly refused to co-operate.


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