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MPEG LA refutes ODS license acquisition claim

MPEG LA, the body that administers MPEG-2 Patent Portfolio licenses has refuted statements made by German DVD disc manufacturer ODS Optical Disc Service to the effect that ODS affiliates have acquired a license issued by MPEG LA.

In a press release last week announcing its acquisition of Deluxe Media Services’ DVD manufacturing plant in Arkansas, ODS said that, as part of the asset deal, the group had acquired the DVD manufacturing licenses issued by MPEG-LA and has now agreed to be MPEG-LA licensees for their entire DVD production.

MPEG LA says it has not entered into any license with ODS or any ODS affiliate, and that “any suggestion or reliance to the contrary is in error (…) DVD Video discs in accordance with the DVD-Video Standard contain information formatted in accordance with the MPEG-2 Standard, but ODS and ODS affiliates remain unlicensed under patents in the MPEG-2 Patent Portfolio License offered by MPEG LA that are essential to its use. Use of such patents without license also may create infringement liability for ODS customers."

The ODS statement also said that it has agreed to acquire licenses issued by 6C/Toshiba. The DVD6C group has had an arbitration procedure pending against ODS alleging that the disc manufacturer has breached the DVD6C License Agreement. The DVD6C group licenses patents owned by its members – Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Sanyo, Sharp, Toshiba, JVC, Samsung, Warner Bros – that are essential for products that comply with the DVD-format specifications defined by the DVD Forum.

Lasts week, the leading District Court for patent infringement in Germany, the Landgericht Dusseldorf, announced six additional verdicts finding that ODS has infringed certain patents licensed in the MPEG-2 Patent Portfolio License offered by MPEG LA as a result of ODS's manufacture of DVD video discs. This brings to 14 the total number of cases in which the German court has found ODS liable for patent infringement. Eight verdicts were announced in November of last year.

Following those decisions, several patent holders enforced the verdicts. As a result, although the verdicts can be appealed, ODS must cease and desist its current DVD production, which uses the enforced patents, and pay damages to the patent owners for past DVD production.

Story filed 14.01.07

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