Video services

Cablevision Wins Round in Verizon Set-Top Bout

Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC)'s lawyers have been on a bit of a winning streak since obtaining final legal clearance for its "remote-storage" DVR in mid-2009. (See Cablevision's Network DVR Debuts in the Bronx and DoJ: Butt Out of Cablevision RS-DVR Case .)

The MSO's legal eagles chalked up another win on Friday (May 20) -- this time against Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) -- when a U.S. International Trade Commission judge tossed out four of five claims against Cablevision over set-top-related patents. The judge threw out the following patents:

  • No. 5,666,293 -- Downloading operating system software through a broadcast channel;
  • No. 5,635,979 -- Dynamically programmable digital entertainment terminal using downloaded software to control broadband data operations;
  • No. 6,367,078 -- Electronic program-guide system with sideways-surfing capability; and
  • No. 7,561,214 -- Two-dimensional navigation of multiplexed channels in a digital video distribution system.

The court ruled against Cablevision on a fifth patent -- No. 6,381,748 -- Apparatus and methods for network access using a set-top box and television.

However, Cablevision, which competes with FiOS in New York, believes that portion of the ITC judge's decision will be toothless because a federal district court judge in Virginia invalidated that claim earlier this month in a separate case that ActiveVideo , one of the MSO's ITV tech partners, brought against Verizon. (See ActiveVideo Suit Targets Verizon.)

"This is a significant victory for Cablevision, the judge rejected four of Verizon's five claims in the case, and the fifth had already been invalidated by a Virginia court. We are obviously very pleased and will continue to defend ourselves vigorously as the process continues," Cablevision said, in a statement.

Verizon told the Wall Street Journal that it's seeking a motion for the Virginia court to reconsider that patent.

Verizon is trying to prevent Cablevision from importing three Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO)-made set-tops that the telco believes are violating its patents. Those boxes also happen to be important cogs in Cablevision's new network DVR.

The ITC is expected to make an official ruling in September that follows the "initial determination" filed Friday by Administrative Law Judge E. James Gildea,

Why this matters
A win by Verizon could block Cablevision from importing three digital set-top models from Cisco: the Explorer 4250HD, Explorer 8300HD and the 4200HD.

The 4200HD and 4250HD are among the boxes that Cablevision subscribers can currently use to record programs on the MSO's new network DVR service. Customers can use the 8300, which contains a local DVR, to playback programs stored on the DVR Plus network servers.

For more
Get caught up on the case:

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 5:04:47 PM
re: Cablevision Wins Round in Verizon Set-Top Bout

This legal battle sounds like it could go on for some time... To what extent would a block on the Cisco set-tops affect Cablevision's ability to deliver its service?


Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:04:45 PM
re: Cablevision Wins Round in Verizon Set-Top Bout

Looks like the ITC piece may be resolved for good in September when the ITC makes its official ruling. But I also wonder if that will change depending on whether or not Verizon is successful trying to get a review on the patent that was invalidated in the Virginia court.  JB


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