Alleging that companies are illegally importing interactive program guides,
Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc. filed a complaint Wednesday with the
International Trade Commission against Pioneer Electronics Corp.,
Scientific-Atlanta Inc., EchoStar Communciations Corp. and SCI Systems Inc.
Gemstar -- which has patent-infringement suits pending in U.S. federal courts
against those companies and TiVo Inc. -- said it wants the ITC to order those
companies to exclude 'the infringing IPG boxes from importation into the United
States,' according to a Gemstar statement. Gemstar's StarSight Telecast unit is
also a party in the complaint.
The company said it wants the ITC to order Pioneer, S-A, EchoStar and SCI to
immediately cease 'all sales of those boxes within the United States.'
Gemstar's move to bring the case to the ITC is unprecedented for a dispute
involving cable-industry players.
S-A spokesman Paul Sims said Thursday morning that the company hadn't yet
received a copy of the complaint. But he added that company executives 'do not
believe Scientific-Atlanta infringes' on Gemstar and StarSight patents.
'Gemstar is well-known for filing lots of lawsuits against lots of companies.
This would appear to be one more instance of their litigious approach,' Sims
Pioneer and EchoStar representatives declined to comment. SCI officials
didn't return calls immediately.
S-A filed an antitrust suit against Gemstar in December 1998, just days
before Gemstar sued the set-top vendor for allegedly infringing upon its IPG
patents. Late last year, Pioneer and EchoStar also sued Gemstar for alleged
Although Gemstar's IPG competitors often point out that the company has never
won a patent-infringement lawsuit at trial, it has been very successful at
settling such suits out of court.
In October, Gemstar won a $200 million settlement from Motorola Inc., which
it had accused of patent infringement.
Gemstar has also seen much success at licensing its IPG to other major
electronics manufacturers, including Matsushita Consumer Electronics, Microsoft
Corp., Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America Inc., Motorola, Philips Consumer
Electronics Co., Sony Electronics Corp. and Thomson Multimedia.
The ITC complaint comes as Gemstar is facing new IPG competition from the
TVGateway consortium, which is backed by WorldGate Communications Inc., Comcast
Corp., Charter Communications Inc., Cox Communications Inc. and Adelphia
Multichannel News reported Monday that several Comcast and Charter cable
systems recently replaced Gemstar's 'TV Guide Interactive' IPG with the