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Jul 20

Paul McLane
7/20/2012 5:55:00 PM 


Paul McLane is editor in chief.

A note in the latest newsletter of the New Jersey Broadcasters Association catches my eye. The group is updating its members about the Mission Abstract Data/DigiMedia legal fight over automation licensing, which RW has been covering.

MAD recently urged the court to lift a “stay” in its patent infringement litigation, as RW too has reported. The NJBA summarized: “In its reply, MAD states: ‘The defendants and their industry appear to have taken a sophisticated and multi-pronged approach to derail DigiMedia’s licensing program. Apparently through coordination with state and national broadcaster associations, the defendants have engineered a licensing blockade, working with [Broadcast Electronics] to attack the asserted patents in the PTO, and petitioned this court to delay the resolution of this litigation pending multiple reexamination requests.’”

It’s interesting to me that MAD is arguing that broadcasters have fought a coordinated effort. A “sophisticated and multi-pronged approach” seems exactly opposite to what I’ve witnessed from my perch. Certainly, people I’ve talked to throughout radio are concerned about MAD’s efforts; and I’ve yet to find one (user or supplier) who considers the claim to have any merit, which is saying a lot in this industry full of competitors. But if anything, the gripe I’ve heard generally is that the associations have not been sufficiently involved and that broadcaster efforts have not been coordinated at all.

Interestingly, the NJBA newsletter continued thus: “QuickNews has confirmed that no state broadcasters association has taken, or intends to take, any action urging its member stations to engage in concerted action to refuse to deal with MAD. Nor has the NAB taken, or intends to take, any such action. Accordingly, MAD’s suggestion of a trade association, coordinated blockade has no basis whatsoever.”

The repeated phrase “intends to take” is notable. If NJBA is correct, stations and interested manufacturers certainly shouldn’t expect any kind of coordinated industry defense. The oft-repeated advice we have heard from communications lawyers seems more appropriate than ever: If your station is approached about automation licensing payments, talk to your legal counsel.

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