NewsCorp and Virgin Media in Second Legal Dust-Up

28 January 2008

LONDON: Cordiality between Clan Murdoch's UK pay-TV giant BSkyB and rival Virgin Media has never been much in evidence. And these days less than ever.

Not only is the former suing the latter for dropping three Sky channels after a price hike last year, a second NewsCorp unit, Gemstar-TV Guide, has now served a writ on Virgin. 

The Los Angeles-based company has filed documents claiming that Virgin's set-top box breaches Gemstar's patent software that powers its interactive programme guides.

Hands aloft in pious indignation, Gemstar avers it has "worked diligently to license Virgin Media for their distribution of various set-top boxes that contain IPGs covered by our patents, but negotiations did not lead to a resolution". 
In  similar vein the filing continues: "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."

Virgin, like NewsCorp a US-owned business, intends to fight the action.  "We are confident the courts will see Gemstar’s action for what it is: a piece of flagrant opportunism.

"We’ve been advised by our external counsel that the case is without merit and we will defend against it vigorously."

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff