For the second time in a couple of weeks, members of a standard-essential patent pool have filed an infringement lawsuit. Last month, it was Blu-ray patent pool One-Blue (and several licensors) filing suit against Imation Corp. Yesterday, a group of licensors to the MPEG LA Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) digital television patent pool filed a patent infringement suit against Canadian electronics maker Curtis International. This group of licensors includes Zenith Electronics, Panasonic Corp., U.S. Philips Corp., and Columbia University.
The complaint, which was filed in the Southern District of Florida, accuses Curtis of infringing four patents through its making/selling/using televisions that comply with the ATSC Standards. While MPEG LA is not a party to the lawsuit (unlike with the recent One-Blue complaint), the patent owners assert that MPEG LA has “offered the ATSC patent pool license to Curtis on several occasions but Curtis has declined to take a license.” In what appears to be a nod to the ATSC Patent Policy‘s requirement that essential patents be made available on “reasonable and non-discriminatory terms” the complaint also asserts that the rates in the MPEG LA license are “fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory,” and that each of the individual patent owners have committed to individually license their ATSC patents on FRAND terms. The patent owners are seeking damages adequate to compensate for infringement, as well as treble damages for willful infringement and costs and attorneys’ fees, but are not seeking an injunction against Curtis.
Here’s a list of the patents in suit:
- U.S. Patent No. 5,802,107, titled “Symbol Rotator” and assigned to Zenith
- U.S. Patent No. 5,629,958, titled “Data Frame Structure and Synchronization System for Digital Television Signal” and assigned to Zenith
- U.S. Patent No. RE42,643, titled “Communication System” and assigned to Panasonic
- U.S. Patent No. 5,684,541, titled “Transmitter Station for Transmitting a Plurality of Television Programs, and Receiver for Receiving the Programs” and assigned to Philips
- U.S. Patent No. 8,115,873, titled “Object-Based Audio-Visual Terminal and Bitstream Structure” and assigned to Columbia
[UPDATE] The same group of MPEG LA licensors has apparently also filed complaints in the Southern District of Florida against ViewSonic and Craig Electronics, alleging infringement of the same five ATSC-essential patents. Links to these other complaints are below: