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Virgin Media trashes patent infringement accusations

TV Guide™ firm cries foul

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Virgin Media has slammed a High Court patent infringement lawsuit brought by the firm behind the massive US TV Guide franchise as an act of "flagrant opportunism".

TV Guide has gone all techie thanks to the rise of digital cable, and Gemstar-TV Guide International reckons it has now has "one of the world's most extensive patent portfolios directed to interactive programming guides".

It claims the UK cable monopoly owes it licensing payments because of features in its set-top boxes. The firm says it asked Virgin nicely to pay up, but failed to reach a settlement.

In a statement, Gemstar said: "We have worked diligently to license Virgin Media for their distribution of various set-top boxes that contain interactive program guides covered by our patents, but negotiations did not lead to a resolution."

"While we would have preferred to reach a commercial solution with Virgin Media, we ultimately have a responsibility to our shareholders, licensees, and other stakeholders to protect the value of our intellectual property."

A Virgin Media spokesman replied: "We're confident the courts will see Gemstar's action for what it is: a piece of flagrant opportunism. We have been advised by our external counsel that the case is without merit and we will defend it vigorously."

The patents in question are EP(UK)0969662, EP(UK)1377049, and EP(UK)1613066, relating to techniques for providing an interactive programming guide and handling recordings from it.

Gemstar-TV Guide insists other unnamed European operators have coughed up, so Virgin Media should too. ®

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