LightSquared and Harbinger Capital Take Aim at Deere, Garmin, and Trimble

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Hedge fund Harbinger Capital, has filed suit in federal court against Deere & Co. (DE), Garmin Ltd. (GRMN), and Trimble Navigation Ltd. (TRMB) for failing to disclose problems with the companies’ GPS navigation systems that caused the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deny a license to Harbinger-controlled and now bankrupt LightSquared Inc. Harbinger and LightSquared are seeking damages of $1.9 billion according to a report at the New York Times’ DealBook blog.

When the FCC denied LightSquared’s application to operate the agency cited interference with existing GPS systems made by Deere, Garmin, and Trimble. LightSquared had a deal with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) to build the broadband network, but Sprint pulled the plug on that deal when the FCC denied the operating license.

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LightSquared contends in today’s lawsuit that the GPS makers did not disclose the flaws in their own equipment and blamed the broadband provider for the interference problems. It seems unlikely that Harbinger and LightSquared will prevail because the FCC already considered this issue and rejected it.

Earlier this week LightSquared fired back at Dish Network Corp. (DISH) and its chairman, Charlie Ergen. LightSquared and Harbinger’s CEO Philip Falcone contend that Ergen, Dish Network, and other Ergen-controlled companies have tried to obtain control of LightSquared by buying up its debt at bargain prices. The lawsuit against the GPS providers and two GPS industry groups is not directly related to Falcone’s complaint against Dish and Ergen.

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