Cable-Modem Makers: Patent Firm Violated Antitrust Laws


An update on the patent-litigation firm that’s trying to wring millions of dollars from cable operators:

Last week a federal judge ruled that Cisco, Motorola and other cable-modem manufacturers may amend their lawsuits against Rembrandt Technologies to allege that the firm violated federal antitrust laws and engaged in unfair competition by bringing to market cable modems with the sole purpose of trying to establish a legal case against the MSOs.

The cable-modem makers claimed they uncovered an “illicit anticompetitive scheme” involving Rembrandt’s Remstream subidiary, according to legal news site Law360 (subscription required).

Meanwhile, also last week, Rembrandt filed a stipulation with the U.S. District Court for Delaware — which is overseeing Rembrandt-related litigation against the cable and broadcast TV industries — that it has “provided to all other parties a covenant not to sue relating to Rembrandt’s patent assertions in the eight patents case,” Law360 reported. The news site added that it is “unclear how the stipulation might affect the ongoing antitrust case.”

Rembrandt in 2005 and 2006 sued Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Charter and Cablevision, alleging the MSOs infringed eight patents purportedly pertaining to DOCSIS technologies and one related to the ATSC digital TV spec (see Suits Target Digital TV, Net). Rembrandt also sued ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and Sharp Electronics over the ATSC patent.

The cable operators requested indemnification from the cable-modem suppliers, leading Cisco, Motorola, Arris, Thomson, Ambit and Netgear to countersue Rembrandt and seek a judgment that their products don’t infringe the patents in question (see Operators, Vendors Call Patent Firm’s Cable Modems A ‘Sham’).

In December 2004, Rembrandt acquired a patent used in the ATSC digital television transmission specification and eight others allegedly pertaining to DOCSIS for a reported $1 million from communications-equipment maker Paradyne (which is now part of Zhone Technologies).