IP attorneys who practice in this area tell me that not "ALL" of the essential MPEG-2 patents are part of the MPEG-LA patent pool, and IIRC, MPEG-LA makes no assertion that ALL the patents necessary for MPEG-2 are part of their MPEG-2 patent pool. And, I should note that there is a pool for most of the essential ATSC patents, like there is a pool for most of the essential MPEG-2 patents. Also, I should note that there was no transfer of any patents involved in the MPEG-2 patent pool. I should also note that the MPEG IPR process until recently was markedly more open than that of the ATSC, and I should note that in the past year, the ATSC IPR process has become more inline with that of MPEG, and participation in at least some ATSC work is conditional on providing IP on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis. I've never heard of any party making a legal claim that there was anything wrong with the ATSC or MPEG IP process. But, other than that, I agree with John's commentary. :-) John Willkie -----Mensaje original----- De: opendtv-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:opendtv-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] En nombre de John Shutt Enviado el: Thursday, June 28, 2007 1:27 PM Para: OpenDTV Asunto: [opendtv] ATSC Patent Suit Threaten Nets, Transition This is old news, so I'm not sure what new development made TV Newsday decide to run this story today, other than a need to fill up white space. All of the relevant patents for ATSC should have been transfered to a holding company for nondiscriminatory licensing terms, ala MPEG LA, before the FCC ever adopted ATSC for transmission. I wonder if DVB is also affected by this patent? John http://www.tvnewsday.com/articles/2007/06/28/daily.2/ ATSC PATENT SUITS THREATEN NETS, TRANSITION TVNEWSDAY, Jun. 28, 8:29 AM ET Philadelphia-based Rembrandt Technologies is suing ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox claiming that their DTV broadcasts infringe on one of its patents and demanding heavy license fees. It's also battling Harris in court over the same patent. Will the FCC intercede? By Harry A. Jessell It might not be technical gremlins that cause the DTV transition to stall, but patent trolls. Rembrandt Technologies, a Philadelphia-based firm derisively dismissed by some of its targets as a patent troll, is suing ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox, claiming their stations are infringing one of its patents by their use of the ATSC standard and demanding heavy license fees. The firm, which says it has raised $150 million to "acquire patents and pursue infringement," is also deep in litigation with Harris, a major supplier of DTV transmitters to TV stations, over the same patent. Concern about the patent and its impact on the ability of TV stations to make final switch to digital on in 2009, has bubbled up to the FCC. And the challenges are causing growing headaches at the networks and transmitter manufacturers. "It's a huge problem," said one network lawyer involved in the fight with Rembrandt. "If the networks and stations have to pay for what could amount to tens of millions of dollars in royalties for a standard that was supposed to be free, it will significantly impact the cost of the transition." Even without license fees, the source said, "nobody has figured out how to even make back the money we have to spend to transition to digital. It's a lot of equipment with no return. "Certainly, small stations would have to think twice before they transition to digital," the source added. Rembrandt has not yet sued any broadcaster other than the Big Four, but it certainly could-and probably would-if successful in its initial round of litigation, the source said. Rembrandt's complaints against the networks do not mention what licenses fees it has asked for. But, according to a filing in the Harris case, Rembrandt's demand for license fees from the networks are substantial-0.5% of "all revenue derived from the use of the ATSC standard by your company as a broadcaster licensee" per year. Combined revenue of the four networks' TV stations was $7.3 billion in 2006, according to BIAfn, and all of that will become "revenue derived from the use of the ATSC standard" in 2009. One-half of 1% of $7.3 billion is $36.5 million. It is unclear whether Rembrandt also wants a piece of the networks' programming revenue, which would amount to tens of millions more. At the same time the networks are litigating the patent infringement suits, they are trying to shift responsibility for any infringement to the transmitter manufacturers. Indeed, Harris, in one of its court filings, said the networks have asked to be indemnified. Rembrandt filed its lawsuits against the networks last December in the U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Del. There, the cases have all been moved to the court of Judge Gregory M. Sleet. In its complaints, Rembrandt alleges that the networks are infringing on one of its patents by broadcasting ATSC DTV signals. It identifies the patent as No. 5,243,627 entitled "Signal Point Interleaving Technique," which it said was "duly and legally issued" on Sept. 7, 1993, to AT&T Bell Laboratories. In the court papers, Rembrandt doesn't explain how the patent ended up in its portfolio. In the related Harris case, Rembrandt is the defendant, not the plaintiff. In something of a preemptive move, Harris sued Rembrandt in May in the U.S. District Court in Orlando, Fla., claiming that Rembrandt had ignored its offer a month earlier to license the technology on "fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory [FRAND] terms" and instead had gone after potentially more lucrative fees from Harris' broadcast customers. One source close to the litigation said that patent law bars a patent holder from simultaneously licensing both the supplier and user of a technology. According to the Harris complaint, Rembrandt is bound to license the patent on FRAND-that is, modest-terms because the original patent holder, AT&T, had promised to do so in 1995 when it joined the Grand Alliance. By not doing so, Rembrandt is breaching its contract with ATSC and the other members of the Grand Alliance, Harris says. The Grand Alliance was the group of system proponents that came together under the aegis of the Advanced Television Systems Committee in May 1993, combined their various technologies and produced a single digital broadcasting system, now commonly known as the ATSC standard. The Grand Alliance comprised AT&T, General Instrument, North American Philips, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Thomson Consumer Electronics, the David Sarnoff Research Center (now Sarnoff Corp.) and Zenith Electronics Corporation (now LG Electronics). Supporting Harris' position is a 1995 letter still in the ATSC files in which AT&T says that it will license patents "essential to the implementation of the [ATSC] standard .under reasonable terms and conditions on a non-discriminatory, non-exclusive basis." In its suit, Harris is not only seeking an injunction against Rembrandt, but damages. "Harris is suffering harm to its relationship with its customers in the marketplace," the Harris complaint says. "Moreover, Harris has a reasonable apprehension of imminently being sued for infringement of Rembrandt's . patent." The FCC interest in the litigation is not surprising. Nearly a decade ago, the FCC gave every station a second channel so they could offer HDTV and other advanced services. To insure a smooth transition to digital, the FCC allowed the stations to continue broadcasting on their conventional analog channels. But time is running out on the analog-digital simulcasting. By law, stations must switch off their analog service on Feb. 17, 2009. The FCC is under heavy Congressional pressure to make sure the analog switch-off happens on schedule so that the government can reallocate some of the recovered analog spectrum for public safety uses and auction off the bulk of it. By some estimates, such an auction could raise as much as $20 billion for the federal treasury. When the FCC adopted the ATSC standard as the national standard in 1996, the agency said the move was based on the assertions of Grand Alliance members to license their patents "on reasonable and non-discriminatory' terms. "We remain committed to this principle and if a future problem is brought to our attention, we will consider it and take appropriate action," the FCC's 1996 order says. But it's not clear what the FCC can do or whether it even has any authority to weigh into the middle of a patent dispute. Staffers in the FCC's Media Bureau and in the Office of Engineering and Technology met with executives of at least two transmitter manufacturers in Washington two weeks ago to try to get a handle on the situation, according to one source following the cases. Mary Diamond, a spokesman for the FCC Media Bureau, declined all comment, refusing even to confirm that a meeting had taken place among transmitter manufacturers and agency staff. Broadcasting is not the only TV medium in the sights of Rembrandt. Since last summer, the firm has also sued at least four major cable operators-Charter, Cox, Cablevision and Time Warner-claiming that they have infringed at least four patents, including the "Signal Point Interleaving" patent at issue in the broadcasting cases. Harris and Rembrandt said they were not prepared to comment for this story prior to this morning's deadline. ---------------------------------------------------------------------- You can UNSUBSCRIBE from the OpenDTV list in two ways: - Using the UNSUBSCRIBE command in your user configuration settings at FreeLists.org - By sending a message to: opendtv-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word unsubscribe in the subject line.