TVG Sues Betting Rival

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Gemstar-TV Guide International’s TVG Network horse-racing channel sued rival Magna Entertainment -- which operates the HorseRacing TV network and XpressBet service -- alleging that it infringes two patents covering interactive wagering systems.

In the complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, TVG is seeking unspecified monetary damages and has requested an injunction to prevent Magna, HRTV and XpressBet from continuing to use the patents.

Magna senior legal counsel William Ford declined to comment, saying the company hasn’t had a chance to review the suit.

The two patents are U.S. Patent No. 6,089,981, issued in 2000, and U.S. Patent No. 6,554,709, issued in 2003. Both are titled “Interactive Wagering Systems and Processes” and cover interactive wagering using off-track terminals that also provide video clips.

TVG said it owns 17 U.S. patents covering interactive wagering systems, with more than 140 issued and pending patents worldwide. The racing network, which is available in more than 27 million households, said it licensed patents to several providers of advance-deposit wagering, including YouBet.com and AmericaTab.

TVG made “numerous good-faith efforts to engage Magna, HRTV and XpressBet in similar licensing discussions, but to date, the defendants have been unwilling to license patents from us,” TVG general counsel John Hindman said in a prepared statement. "While we have endeavored to work cooperatively with all industry participants, we ultimately have a responsibility to protect our valuable intellectual property from infringing use by others."

Magna operates or manages 11 horse racetracks in North America. Its HRTV channel, available in 13 million homes, accepts wagers on horse races from viewers in 34 states. Churchill Downs Inc., which bought a 50% stake in HRTV, also developed its own wagering system, called Twinspires.

Gemstar-TV Guide has used patent litigation notably in the area of interactive program guides. Most recently, it sued digital-video-recorder vendor Digeo, alleging that it refused to license two IPG-related patents. Digeo filed an antitrust lawsuit against Gemstar-TV Guide. Those cases are pending.

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