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ActiveVideo Suit Targets Verizon

Light Reading
LR Cable News Analysis
Light Reading
5/27/2010

Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC)'s top interactive TV technology vendor has filed a patent infringement suit against Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), a complaint that comes about two months after the telephone giant accused Cablevision of ripping off technology used to power its FiOS TV product. (See Verizon Lawsuit Targets Cablevision Boxes, ITV.)

San Jose, Calif.-based ActiveVideo is accusing Verizon of violating five of its patents related to interactive TV technology in the complaint, which was filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The US patents in question are:

  • No. 6,034,678 -- "Cable Television System With Remote Interactive Processor"
  • No. 5,550,578 -- "Interactive And Conventional Television Information System"
  • No. 6,100,883 -- "Home Interface Controller for Providing Interactive Cable Television"
  • No. 5,526,034 -- "Interactive Home Information System with Signal Assignment"
  • No. 6,205,582 -- "Interactive Cable Television System With Frame Server"


"This is without merit," a Verizon spokesperson said Thursday regarding the suit.

ActiveVideo supplies Cablevision with a "CloudTV" platform that the MSO uses to operate several interactive TV applications, including interactive news, sports, and kids mosaic navigation channels that allow subscribers to view the feeds of six networks on a single screen simultaneously ActiveVideo also helped Cablevision build its interactive channel for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and supplies the technology used on its MSG Varsity Interactive and News12 Interactive channels. (See Winter Games Go Interactive… for Some TV Viewers and Cablevision Adds ActiveVideo Apps.)

An ActiveVideo spokesperson declined to comment when asked if the company had attempted to license its technology to Verizon before suing the telco, which competes head-to-head with Cablevision in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

"ActiveVideo Networks respects the intellectual property rights of others and has no choice but to insist that Verizon do the same," the company said in a statement issued regarding the lawsuit.

In the complaint, ActiveVideo claims it's entitled to damages from the alleged infringement that would pay it a "reasonable royalty, together with interest and costs" for its intellectual property.

Verizon's litigation with Cablevision at the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) could go on for at least one more year unless the companies agree to a settlement. According to a procedural order issued by the ITC last week, Cablevision and Verizon are scheduled to hold their first settlement conference on June 28, with a second settlement conference slated for September 1.

If the companies don't reach a settlement, the ITC is scheduled to hear the case in January, and issue a decision by August 2011.

Cablevision could be blocked from importing three advanced digital set-top models from Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) if Verizon were to succeed at the ITC. The box models targeted by Verizon's patent complaint are the Explorer 4250HD, Explorer 8300HD, and the 4200HD.

— Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

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