Imagine Denies BigBand's Patent Allegations

Imagine Communications Thursday filed its response and counterclaim to BigBand Networks' patent-infringement lawsuit, calling it "baseless litigation" and categorically denying the allegations.

The startup -- founded by two ex-BigBand employees in 2005 -- also said it is considering filing a suit for damages caused "by BigBand trying to disrupt [Imagine's] financing and its commercial market entry."

BigBand, which filed suit June 5 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, alleged that Imagine’s products infringe three of BigBand's U.S. patents that cover video-processing and bandwidth-management techniques.

In its response, Imagine said its video-processing and multiplexing technology involves a unique method of simultaneously improving bandwidth efficiency and video quality that is fundamentally different from BigBand's.

In addition, Imagine CEO Jamie Howard claimed in a prepared statement that BigBand's patents "are invalid and are unenforceable" because BigBand withheld material information from the patent examiners during the patent-application process.

Also, Howard's statement continued, Imagine's products have not yet commercially deployed, "so filing a lawsuit would seem ill-advised since BigBand cannot properly know or understand the details of Imagine's yet-to-be-released technology to form the basis for a lawsuit." Imagine said it has been testing its technology with cable operators and expects to begin initial product shipments in the fourth quarter.

"The only conclusion we can reach is that [BigBand] initiated this suit to upset Imagine's financings and slow down introduction of Imagine's superior technology," said Howard, who, before joining the startup last year, was BigBand's chief operating officer.

Imagine "heard rumblings" that BigBand might file a lawsuit, according to Howard, at which point he allegedly contacted BigBand CEO Amir Bassan-Eskenazi to discuss the issue and invited the company to Imagine's lab to demonstrate how its technology was different. Said Howard, "They refused our invitation and sued us anyway."

In response to Imagine's accusations, BigBand vice president and general counsel Rob Horton said in a prepared statement: "Obviously, we're disappointed with Imagine's inflammatory statements, which go far beyond the allegations and any litigation privilege and further expose Imagine to yet more liability to BigBand. BigBand does not intend to litigate through competing press releases, and instead will allow the legal process to remedy what we believe to be willful infringement of our intellectual property by our former employees."

Privately held Imagine -- based near San Diego in Cardiff by the Sea, Calif. -- has received funding from Carmel Ventures and Columbia Capital.