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Video hardware

Imagine That!

As reported this week, BigBand Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: BBND) is suing video processing start-up Imagine Communications for alleged patent infringement. (See BigBand Throws the Book at Imagine.)

Imagine that! BigBand says it is simply protecting its intellectual property. But as the Bard might say: "The BigBand doth protest too much, methinks."

Might it be that, after raising $88 million through its March IPO and climbing to a $1 billion market cap, BigBand is wasting no time using its new heft to squash potential competitors? Imagine only raised $9.2 million in first-round funding. A good law firm can finish that off in short order. [Ed note: For what it's worth, Imagine issued this formal statement on the matter Wednesday afternoon: "We don't believe we have an issue; it's under internal evaluation."]

Now that BigBand has leaped beyond cable and into the telco sphere with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), maybe it's already adopting key tactics from the Baby Bell playbook, such as: "Rule number one, when in doubt, litigate." Ten-ton gorilla thinking is contagious.

Of course, it's not as if Imagine hasn't been poking the beast. The company hired five former BigBand executives to form the core of its senior management team. Together, they are pushing a variable bit rate and statistical multiplexing solution for digital video that takes aim at BigBand's flagship BMR platform.

And so it goes for those that live by the sword.

— Michael Harris, Chief Analyst, Cable Digital News

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