Two competitive cable technology chip vendors are bracing for a battle in the courts.
Entropic has filed a patent infringement lawsuit in a California district court on allegations that ViXS Systems is infringing on two of Entropic’s “core home networking patents.”
- No. 7,295,518 (Broadband network for coaxial cable using multi-carrier modulation) describes how broadband local area data networks use coax wiring to interconnect terminal devices such as set-top boxes. The patent notes the use of Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM), a technology that’s expected to be part of the developing DOCSIS 3.1 specifications, with bit loading to mitigate channel impairments and provide a cleaner path on the home network.
- No. 7,889,759 (Broadband cable network utilizing common bit-loading) describes a common bit-loading modulation scheme for communicating between a “plurality of nodes” on the home network.
Entropic, which claims to have more than 2,000 issued and pending patents worldwide, said its complaint seeks an undisclosed amount of monetary damages from Toronto-based ViXS, which announced its intentions to go public in April.
"We believe ViXS is infringing upon two of our core home networking patents, and our action today is a strategic step to protect our intellectual property," said Entropic SVP and general counsel Lance Bridges, in a statement.
Entropic’s “claim is entirely without merit, and that ViXS will vigorously defend itself,” ViXS said in response, noting that it has 400 issued and pending patents of its own.
“With no prior notice from Entropic on this matter, we find the timing of this lawsuit questionable,” ViXS president and CEO Sally Daub said, in a statement. “We will respond with a robust position.”
The lawsuit comes into play as ViXS and Entropic become increasingly competitive, particularly in the areas of coax-based home networking and video transcoding.
ViXS has developed a line of Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) 1.1 and 2.0 silicon under the XConnex brand for use in set-tops, Ethernet-over-coax bridges and media gateways. In January, ViXS announced a deal to integrate its MoCA and transcoding chips with Intel Corp.’s new DOCSIS 3.0-powered home media gateways targeted to cable operators.
Before Entropic purchased set-top chipmaker Trident Microsystems in 2012 for $65 million, MoCA was Entropic’s primary area of business. It also has some skin in the video transcoding game by way of a $10 million investment in Zenverge made in 2011. Products such as the Televation video transcoding device that Motorola (now part of Arris) developed for Comcast pairs Entropic’s MoCA silicon with ViXS’s transcoding chip.
Entropic posted first quarter revenues of $74.5 million, down from $89.7 million in the previous quarter, attributing the slide to seasonal softness in its end markets, MoCA market share reductions caused by lost design deals as Entropic forged its first integrated set-top/MoCA chipset, and an “unexpected change” in deployment plans for hi-definition digital transport adapters (HD-DTAs) from an undisclosed U.S. pay TV operator.
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