Patent Firm Sues Comcast, TWC, Charter Over DOCSIS 3.0

Canadian patent-licensing firm WiLAN is suing Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications, alleging the cable companies' DOCSIS 3.0-based equipment is infringing a patent it owns that was granted in 1998.

WiLAN filed suit on Friday, Nov. 19, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, in Tyler, Texas.

WiLAN claims that Comcast, Charter and TWC "have infringed and continue to infringe" one of the patents it owns "by offering for sale, selling, operating, advertising and marketing cable systems and cable modem products."

Comcast and Time Warner Cable declined to comment. A Charter spokeswoman said that the MSO had not yet been served with the suit as of late Monday afternoon.

In a separate patent case involving DOCSIS, a federal judge last year dismissed the claims of patent-licensing firm Rembrandt IP Management, which had been attempting to extract millions of dollars in royalties from the five largest U.S. cable operators.

In the WiLAN case, the patent in question, U.S. Patent No. 5,761,602, covers a "Hybrid multichannel data transmission system utilizing a broadcast medium." It was granted June 2, 1998, to Wagner DSP Technologies.

CableLabs first issued its DOCSIS 3.0 specifications, which provide high-speed connections by bonding together multiple digital channels, in August 2006.

WiLAN will be represented in the litigation by McKool Smith, a law firm that specializes in intellectual property litigation.

WiLAN, founded in 1992, claims to have licensed its intellectual property to more than 230 companies worldwide, including Cisco Systems, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung, RIM, Sharp, Sony and Toshiba. Its portfolio of 970 issued or pending patents covers a range of communication and consumer electronics products including 3G cellular handsets, Wi-Fi-enabled laptops, Wi-Fi/DSL routers, xDSL infrastructure equipment, WiMax base stations and digital TV receivers.

Publicly traded WiLAN, based in Ottawa, Ontario, reported cash revenue of $11.8 million and a net loss of $5.9 million for the quarter ended July 31, 2010.