AT&T Patent Lawsuit Targets Cox

Allegations Touch MSO’s IP Voice and DOCSIS 3.0-Based Services & DVRs and STBs
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AT&T has filed a lawsuit against Cox Communications that claims that the MSO is infringing several patents that tie into the MSO’s IP voice service, use of set-top boxes and DVRs, and its DOCSIS 3.0-powered high-speed Internet platform.

The suit (here’s a copy posted by Ars Technica), filed August 28 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, alleges that Cox is infringing on several AT&T patents.

AT&T claims that in first contacted Cox in 2009 about alleged infringements on a number of patents, including several referenced in this complaint. “Despite years of protracted negotiations, Cox has sought to avoid payment for its infringement by repeatedly delaying and rescheduling negotiations,” the telco claimed. “Given every opportunity, Cox has failed to provide substantial arguments for either non-infringement or invalidity of AT&T’s patents.”

Cox said it doesn’t comment on active litigation.

Here’s a list of patents named in the suit:

-No.  5,809,492 – “Apparatus and Method for Defining Rules for Personal Agents,” which describes methods for “software agents to incorporate user information and generate and maintain rules, identify and repair conflicting rules, and implement the actions mandated by those rules.” AT&T claims Cox infringes on this patent, for example, when its DVRs and set-tops are used to create, organize and identify potential conflicting program recording requests.

-No.  6,118,976  -- “Asymmetric Data Communications System,” which describes a “point-to -multipoint distribution system for analog and digital content including, a return path for user control information” that enables a device, such as a set-top box, to select and tune to both analog and digital content streams. Specific models cited in the complaint include the Cisco/S-A Explorer 8000, 8000HD, 8300, and 8300HD.

-No. 6,487,200 -- “Packet Telephone System,” which covers IP-based voice systems. AT&T claims Cox’s use of embedded multimedia terminal adapters (modems optimized to support VoIP) infringe.

-Nos. 6,952,668; 7,233,897; 7,908,140  -- “Method and Apparatus for Performing Packet Loss or Frame Erasure Concealment.” Collectively called the “Kapilow Patents,” they describe methods used in voice transmission. Here, AT&T also cites Cox’s use of eMTAs and other “network components” that use G.711 Appendix I packet loss concealment or an equivalent.

-No. 6,993,353 – “Cable Data Service Method,” describe the transmission of data over an RF cable using multiple RF channels that are then recombined at a receiver, commonly referred to as “channel bonding,” which also happens to be an approach used by the CableLabs DOCSIS 3.0 platform.

-No. 7,907,714  -- “Profile Management System Including User Interface for Accessing and Maintaining Profile Data of User Subscribed Telephony Services,” which describes a method that allows subscribers to obtain a higher level of service without the need for a live customer service rep.

AT&T’s suit is seeking an array of alleged damages, including nothing less than a “reasonable royalty” for its intellectual property, and for Cox to pay a compulsory ongoing royalty for any future infringement of the patents-in-suit.