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Cablevision Wins ITC Ruling In Verizon Set-Top Patent Case

A U.S. International Trade Commission judge Friday threw out four of Verizon Communications' claims against Cablevision Systems relating to set-top box patents, while the telco's fifth patent claim was ruled invalid earlier this month by a federal district court.

Verizon in March 2010 filed the ITC complaint and sued the cable operator in Delaware federal court, accusing the cable operator of infringing several patents with certain digital set-top boxes and demanding that Cablevision stop distributing the boxes.

In its ITC complaint, Verizon claimed three Cablevision set-top boxes -- the Scientific Atlanta Explorer 4250HD, the SA Explorer 8300HD and the SA Explorer 4200HD -- violated five of the telco's patents.

In a statement Friday, Cablevision said: "This is a significant victory for Cablevision, the judge rejected four of Verizon's five claims in the case, and the fifth had already been invalidated by a Virginia court. We are obviously very pleased and will continue to defend ourselves vigorously as the process continues."

Verizon responded with a statement Saturday saying: "Our pursuit of this action reflects our long-established commitment to protect and enforce our intellectual property rights."

The telco indicated it expects to have a strong case on review by the full ITC that Cablevision infringes two additional patents. "The full ITC will review the [administrative law judge's] decision with a target date for decision of September 20, 2011," Verizon said.

In the ITC ruling, administrative law judge E. James Gildea found that Cablevision did not violate four of the patents: U.S. Patent No. 5,666,293 ("Downloading operating system software through a broadcast channel"); 5,635,979 ("Dynamically programmable digital entertainment terminal using downloaded software to control broadband data operations"); 6,367,078 ("Electronic program-guide system with sideways-surfing capability"); and 7,561,214 ("Two-dimensional navigation of multiplexed channels in a digital video distribution system").

The judge ruled against Cablevision on the fifth patent claim on Patent No. 6,381,748 ("Apparatus and methods for network access using a set-top box and television").

However, on May 10 the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that Verizon's claims for the '748 patent were invalid, along with and one other patent in a suit against interactive TV vendor ActiveVideo Networks, whose biggest customer is Cablevision. Verizon said it has filed a motion for reconsideration of that opinion.

Verizon did not say which two other patents it would add to its ITC complaint against Cablevision. The telco in the Delaware suit alleged the MSO infringed three other patents in addition to the five it originally brought before the ITC: U.S. Patent No. 5,608,447 ("Full service network," covering a digital switching network that accommodates a range of broadband and narrowband digital technologies); 6,055,077 ("Multimedia distribution system using fiber optic lines"); and 5,864,415 ("Fiber optic network with wavelength-division-multiplexed transmission to customer premises").

Meanwhile, ActiveVideo filed a lawsuit against Verizon in May 2010 alleging the telco's FiOS TV service infringes five of its patents for interactive TV and video-on-demand technologies.

Verizon has reached intellectual-property cross-licensing agreements with Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications. According to Verizon, Cablevision "has refused to deal with us respecting their own intellectual property (HD sports in New York) on any terms."