Court Sides Against Cable Modem Patent Troll
About five years ago, Rembrandt targeted several cable operators -- including Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Cox Communications Inc. , and Charter Communications Inc. -- alleging that their use of Docsis, a CableLabs specification that forms the technical baseline for cable's high-speed Internet and VoIP services, infringed on eight patents Rembrandt obtained via its acquisition of what was then Paradyne Networks Inc. (See Zhone to Buy Paradyne for $184M.)
Those MSOs and a group of cable modem vendors, including Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) and Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), later formed an MDL (multidistrict litigation) party, characterizing Rembrandt as a patent troll that was bent on extracting millions in royalties. Rembrandt later sold modems through a company called Remstream. Although a Remstream-made cable modem and an embedded multimedia terminal adapter (voice modem) did obtain certification from CableLabs, the MDL alleged that Remstream was nothing more than a shell, established to help Rembrandt fulfill its desire to extract license fees from operators and vendors that had created lucrative high-speed Internet businesses.
Bloomberg reported Wednesday that a jury trial was set to begin January 11, 2010, in federal court in Wilmington, Del., but the judge assigned to it dismissed the claims on all eight Rembrandt patents on October 23 after Rembrandt signed a deal not to sue.
Rembrandt's chances of success began to look bleak in August, when the MDL urged the judge to invalidate two of the Rembrandt patents tied to the case: 6,950,444 and 6,131,159. (See MSOs Try to Brush Off Rembrandt Patents.)
The judge has since thrown out Rembrandt's claims on all eight patents, with Rembrandt agreeing not to sue the vendors or their customers for products that comply with existing industry standards.
Rembrandt has not offered a comment on the court's decision.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News