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Digeo Clears a Big Legal Hurdle

Set-top maker Digeo Inc. has swept away one significant distraction -- a legal entanglement with Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. (Nasdaq: GMST) -- as the company recovers from several embarrassing setbacks. (See Gemstar, Digeo Settle Up.)

On Monday, Digeo said it signed a multiyear patent license agreement with Gemstar-TV Guide, which is in the process of being acquired by Macrovision Solutions Corp. . (See Macrovision to Buy Gemstar-TV Guide for $2.8B.)

Digeo and Gemstar did not disclose the financial terms of the deal, but the parties did agree to dismiss all claims tied to a 2006 lawsuit in which Gemstar accused Digeo of infringing on some of patents.

The new license covers Digeo's currently deployed IPGs (interactive programming guides) and others that Digeo plans to deploy with TV service operators and for use on consumer electronics and PC-based platforms, the companies said.

Digeo, backed by Paul Allen, laid off about half its staff and altered its product strategy in January following the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show. (See Moxi Maker Digeo Slashes Staff, Product Line .)

Though Digeo promoted two high-end DVR products in January, it quickly changed strategies and now says it is focused on a "next-generation consumer" box, with more details expected later this year.

The company has touted deployments with eight cable MSOs, with Charter Communications Inc. being the largest, but the vendor has lacked a viable cable set-top platform since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandate on integrated security went into effect last July. (See Countdown to 'Seven-Oh-Seven'.)

The company is also working on a CableCARD-based, cost-reduced HD-DVR for direct distribution through cable MSOs, but has not disclosed an expected product release date. However, next month's Cable Show in New Orleans (May 18-20) will give Digeo its first high-profile opportunity to make a formal announcement. [Ed. note: Or just make stuff up.]

A Digeo spokeswoman confirmed that the company will participate in next month's cable confab, but declined to provide any additional data on Digeo's cable product roadmap.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

chocodile 12/5/2012 | 3:42:50 PM
re: Digeo Clears a Big Legal Hurdle Reminds me of my days (years) with a Seattle-based middleware startup. Ever tried to design a TV-based UI that DIDN'T infringe on some ridiculous Gemstar patent?(aren't you only supposed to be granted patents for unique ideas? I mean patenting a calendar grid? Really?) Dang near impossible. I hope Macrovision will not continue Gemstar's sue tactics. At least not to the degree that Gemstar did.
Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 3:42:48 PM
re: Digeo Clears a Big Legal Hurdle There certainly was a time not so long ago when a new Gemstar lawsuit was as predictable as a sunrise, so I can only imagine what it was like to face their lawyers back in the day. But it seems like the kinder, gentler Gemstar post
Henry Yuen is at least more willing to negotiate to terms that its potential legal targets find to be agreeable.
chocodile 12/5/2012 | 3:42:46 PM
re: Digeo Clears a Big Legal Hurdle Well, we were never big enough that Gemstar would gain much by suing us. But we also came up with a UI that didn't infringe on any patents. We actually managed to come up with a few of our own. A couple of our guys are at Digeo now, and I wish them well.
delphi 12/5/2012 | 3:42:44 PM
re: Digeo Clears a Big Legal Hurdle gemstar is the star example of why the american patent system is broken and how allowing companies to fish for friendly judicial venues is out of control. They never "invented" anything unique or innovative in regards to the guide. Their sole innovation was in a meta language for VCR recording. Selling for the price they got is still obscene.
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