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Court forces Dicentia to cease German DVD production

The District Court of Düsseldorf, Germany, has found that DVD disc manufacturers Dicentia Germany GmbH and Dicentia A/S have infringed patents in the MPEG-2 Patent Portfolio License administered by MPEG LA.

The Court issued twelve verdicts of infringement based on as many cases on the merits brought by MPEG-2 patent owners. They include CIF Licensing, GE Technology Development, Philips, Matsushita, Mitsubishi Electric Corp, Sony, Thomson Licensing, The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, and Victor Company of Japan (JVC).

The court ruling requires Dicentia to cease its production of DVD video discs in Germany and to pay damages to the patent owners for past DVD video disc production. Dicentia may appeal these verdicts.

In addition, the Düsseldorf District Court issued preliminary injunctions against Dicentia's MD Torben Nordquist, the company's German operations Disc Technology Center GmbH and others on behalf of Sony and Philips as a result of the DVD video production activities at the former premises of Optical Disc Service (ODS) in Dassow, Germany. These injunctions can be appealed, too.

“The verdicts against Dicentia further confirm the need for a license under MPEG-2 patents in DVD video disc production,” said Larry Horn, CEO of MPEG LA. "The MPEG-2 Standard is the core technology underlying the efficient creation, transmission, storage and display of digitized moving images and sound tracks on which DVD and other digital technologies are based."

Only two months after a new management team was installed at the insolvent ODS Dassow plant, (see related story) the new owner Dicentia's local subsidiary Disc Technology Center Dassow filed for bankruptcy reportedly without consulting the parent company in Denmark. Heading Dicentia's DTC was Al Fetouhi, Kevin Martin and Jesper Schertinger, three executives from the now defunct ODS Group.

Retreating on the call for insolvency, Torben Nordquist, Dicentia's managing director, acknowledged in the German press that the launch "was much harder than expected." One of the DTC directors he dismissed is reported to have complained of a lack of support from Denmark resulting in some two million CDs being pressed in Poland, not in Dassow, as promised. The new director appointed by Nordquist "will assess the current situation."

According to the Germany press, complications surrounding the present position of DTC also appear to revolve around the production of the slimmer, environmentally-friendly EcoDisc, reportedly put on hold until licensing issues have been sorted out. A May 2008 ruling by the European Patent Office recognises Al Fetouhi as the inventor of the EcoDisc. Fetouhi, a Dicentia and DTC director, was head of research at ODS. The EcoDisc patent and license rights are shared between Fetouhi, ODS Technology (Dassow) and Frenchman Roger Nute.

Fetouhi is also now involved in a company based in Switzerland, EcoDisc Technology AG (under the umbrella of the Klondyke Management and Holding company in Hergiswil), which he set up with former ODS CEO Wilhelm F Mittrich and two other persons. Registered persons of EcoDisc Technology also includes German Alexander Renziehausen. The company was created just before the filing of bankruptcy for DTC.

Story filed 22.09.08

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