Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Commitments and Contingencies

Commitments and Contingencies
3 Months Ended
Apr. 30, 2012
Commitments and Contingencies

7. Commitments and Contingencies


ARRIS Litigation


On July 31, 2009, ARRIS Group, Inc. (“ARRIS”) filed a contempt motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware against SeaChange International relating to U.S. Patent No 5,805,804 (the “804 patent”), a patent in which ARRIS has an ownership interest. In its motion, ARRIS is seeking further patent royalties and the enforcement of the permanent injunction entered by the Court on April 6, 2006 against certain SeaChange products. On August 3, 2009, SeaChange filed a complaint seeking a declaratory judgment from the Court that its products do not infringe the ‘804 patent and asserting certain equitable defenses. On June 4, 2010, the Court entered an Order staying the declaratory judgment action pending resolution of the contempt proceeding. On September 2, 2011, the Court entered an Order in which it concluded that a contempt proceeding is the appropriate procedure for resolving the parties’ dispute and that further factual and legal determinations would be necessary. On March 1, 2012, the Court conducted a hearing at which the parties submitted additional information. No determinations were made by the Court at the hearing as to liability, and the parties have submitted post-hearing briefs. We believe that our products do not infringe on the ‘804 patent and that we have meritorious defenses against the suit, however, the ultimate resolution of the matter is not reasonably estimable at this time, but could result in a material liability for us.


Indemnification and Warranties


We provide indemnification, to the extent permitted by law, to our officers, directors, employees and agents for liabilities arising from certain events or occurrences while the officer, director, employee, or agent is or was serving at our request in such capacity. With respect to acquisitions, we provide indemnification to or assume indemnification obligations for the current and former directors, officers and employees of the acquired companies in accordance with the acquired companies’ bylaws and charter. As a matter of practice, we have maintained directors' and officers’ liability insurance including coverage for directors and officers of acquired companies.


We enter into agreements in the ordinary course of business with customers, resellers, distributors, integrators and suppliers. Most of these agreements require us to defend and/or indemnify the other party against intellectual property infringement claims brought by a third party with respect to our products. From time to time, we also indemnify customers and business partners for damages, losses and liabilities they may suffer or incur relating to personal injury, personal property damage, product liability, and environmental claims relating to the use of our products and services or resulting from the acts or omissions of us, our employees, authorized agents or subcontractors. For example, we have received requests from several of our customers for indemnification of patent litigation claims asserted by Acacia Media Technologies, USA Video Technology Corporation, VTran Media Technologies and Active Video Networks, Inc. Management cannot reasonably estimate any potential losses, but these claims could result in material liability for us.


We warrant that our products, including software products, will substantially perform in accordance with our standard published specifications in effect at the time of delivery. Most warranties have at least a one year duration that generally commence upon installation. In addition, we provide maintenance support to our customers and therefore allocate a portion of the product purchase price to the initial warranty period and recognize revenue on a straight line basis over that warranty period related to both the warranty obligation and the maintenance support agreement. When we receive revenue for extended warranties beyond the standard duration, it is deferred and recognized on a straight line basis over the contract period. Related costs are expensed as incurred.


In the ordinary course of business, we provide minimum purchase guarantees to certain of our vendors to ensure continuity of supply against the market demand. Although some of these guarantees provide penalties for cancellations and/or modifications to the purchase commitments as the market demand decreases, most of the guarantees do not. Therefore, as the market demand decreases, we re-evaluate the accounting implications of guarantees and determine what charges, if any, should be recorded.


With respect to our agreements covering product, business or entity divestitures and acquisitions, we provide certain representations and warranties and agree to indemnify and hold such purchasers harmless against breaches of such representations, warranties and covenants. With respect to our acquisitions, we may, from time to time, assume the liability for certain events or occurrences that took place prior to the date of acquisition.


We provide such guarantees and indemnification obligations after considering the economics of the transaction and other factors including but not limited to the liquidity and credit risk of the other party in the transaction. We believe that the likelihood is remote that any such arrangement could have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operation or liquidity. We record liabilities, as disclosed above, for such guarantees based on our best estimate of probable losses which considers amounts recoverable under any recourse provisions.