It's been nearly five months since a St. Louis jury surprised many in the publishing industry by ordering Lightning Source to pay $15 million to the startup On Demand Machine Corp. In a ruling handed down July 23, a judge in the Federal District Court in St. Louis affirmed the $15-million judgment against Lightning, but Judge Mary Ann Medler denied On Demand's request for a permanent injunction that could have forced Lightning to close its print-on-demand operations. The judge also denied On Demand's motions for trebled damages and attorneys' fees.

The ruling clears the way for an appeal of the jury verdict, which Lightning attorney David Roland said will soon be filed. "We'll see the process through until the end," he said.

The original lawsuit was filed in 2001 by Harvey Ross, an engineer who received a patent for a computer-based book-manufacturing system in 1995. Ross died in 2002, but the case has been carried forward by On Demand. This winter, a jury ruled that Lightning and its parent company, Ingram Industries, had infringed On Demand's patent in creating its own POD system. If the ruling is upheld, it could require that royalties be paid to On Demand every time a book is printed using POD, a restriction that could slow the growth of the business.