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Broadcasters Sued over Digital Patent

Apr 17, 2008  •  Post A Comment

ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox are among the more than dozen companies sued by a Pennsylvania company that says it has the patent on the technology needed for next February’s digital switchover, the Associated Press reports. The claim by Rembrandt Inc., which acquired the patent in 2004 from an AT&T spinoff, could add “tens of millions of dollars” to the cost of the switchover by demanding royalties related to the patent, the wire service says, citing the nonprofit American Antitrust Institute.
— Danny King

2 Comments

  1. If you read the original source article, you’ll find that AT&T wrote its own technology into the ATSC standard, knowing if it were adopted broadcasters would need to license their patent, and then apparently forgot about it as they transferred the patent to a spin-off that then sold it to Rembrandt.
    Whoops.
    But it’s great that a member of a consortium creating a new broadcast standard can guarantee itself a revenue stream by writing their own patented technology into the standard.
    Nice.

  2. How ignorant, on many fronts. The patent in question carries a “frand” requirement — at the time of incorporation into the A/53 standard — that requires the holder to license it to others on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis.
    Also, there is _INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY_ in standards. It would be wierd and nobody would offer their hard-won achievements to, say, bring us into digital tv, were they not able to patent and license their technology to the actual users.
    What’s unique about this situation is that Rembrandt must think their fees are fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory, and that Rembrandt is going after the end-users, not the makers of these systems.
    I can’t comment as authoritatively as you attempt until I actually read the suit and examine the method and apparatus outlined in the patent.

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