Chalking up another win for its patent attorneys, Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. reached a $200 million settlement last week with set-top maker Motorola Inc., which inherited the lawsuit when it bought General Instrument Corp.
Gemstar-TV Guide executives used the settlement, in which Motorola agreed never to sell its own interactive program guide to cable operators, as an opportunity to warn other IPG companies that Gemstar-TV Guide's patents are rock solid.
"It should not be lost upon anybody the significance of the economics of this settlement vis-à-vis other parties who have chosen to not respect the patents," TV Guide-Gemstar co-president and chief operating officer Peter Boylan said at a conference with analysts.
TV Guide-Gemstar has filed patent-infringement suits against technology vendors Scientific-Atlanta Inc., Pioneer New Media Technologies and TiVo Inc.
The Motorola settlement followed an arbitration decision last October. GI was ordered to pay Gemstar $40 million for breaching a licensing deal reached with StarSight Telecast Inc. in 1992.
"There was a ruling against us already," Motorola corporate vice president Bob Scott said last week. "It's litigation, and litigation is uncertain."
Under the settlement, Motorola gets a long-term "make-and-sell" license agreement, which will allow it to ship set-tops containing Gemstar-TV Guide IPG technology. Cable operators will have to cut separate deals with Gemstar-TV Guide before they can offer the IPG to subscribers, Boylan said.
It's not clear if the settlement affects competing IPG vendors using Motorola Broadband Communications Sector set-tops. Insight Communications Co. offers Source Media Corp.'s IPG on Motorola set-tops to about 100,000 subscribers. Insight is the only MSO running an IPG other than TV Guide Interactive in that way, Boylan said.
Motorola also agreed to license all IPG-related technology to Gemstar, royalty-free.
The two parties also agreed to collaborate on future interactive-television initiatives, but didn't commit to any specific ventures.
Gemstar-TV Guide and Motorola executives said the companies could work together on developing electronic book applications. Boylan said they might collaborate in the personal-video recorder category, "where we firmly believe you can't do time-shifted TV and PVR activities without utilizing our technology and patents."
Motorola, Charter Communications Inc., Vulcan Ventures and ReplayTV Inc. recently announced plans to develop PVR technology for cable set-tops.
Scientific-Atlanta spokesman Paul Sims said S-A was not in settlement discussions with Gemstar-TV Guide.
"The settlement of the Motorola-Gemstar litigation will have no impact on Scientific-Atlanta's litigation with Gemstar, or on our business," he said.
TiVo spokeswoman Rebecca Baer said the company doesn't comment on pending litigation. Pioneer representatives didn't return calls.
The smarter way to stay on top of the multichannel video marketplace. Sign up below.
Thank you for signing up to Multichannel News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.