Freeview Has EPG Patent Problems With Murdoch Linked Company

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Freeview Australia is facing a major patent and copyright issue issue that could prevent them launching an electronic program guide based on a traditional information grid pattern after talks with the US owners of the grid broke down.

Freeview Australia is facing a major patent issue that could prevent them launching an electronic program guide based on a traditional information grid pattern after talks with the US owners of the grid broke down.


In the US and several other Countries around the world Freeview and other TV Companies use the Gemstar patented grid pattern to deliver information to a TV screen however Gemstar which is now owned by Macrovision is not returning calls to Freeview Australia boss Robin Parkes.


 Gemstar which is 41% owned by Rupert Murdoch has told ChannelNews that they will sue if anyone in Australia who tries to use their patented EPG grid format guide without a license agreement.


Murdoch is also a 33% shareholder in Foxtel a main competitor to Freeview which is made up of a consortium of Free to air TV stations.


The failure to secure a deal with Gemstar could cause major problems for Freeview who have been forced to call in their patent lawyers as they search for a solution to the problem. While the issue will not affect their current EPG offering it will affect their M-HEG5 offeing wich is due next year.


Under the Freeview plan all TV manufacturers and set top box Companies who are supporting Freeview will use a common electronic program guide that would have been based on the Gemstar patented grid.

 

Robin Parkes said “There is a problem with Macrovision and Gemstar and at this stage we cannot use the Gemstar patented grid. Our proposed EPG would have infringed on their patent. We are trying to have talks with them but they are not returning our calls” said Parkes.


Another problem for Freeview is the pending High Court decision between Freeview partner, The Nine Network and Ice TV.
Currently IceTV are awaiting a decision from the High Court as to whether their locally developed EPG breaches copyright laws in Australia. The Company who have already won a round of their battle in the NSW Supreme Court is expecting a decision any day.


A win for IceTV would allow Freeview to negotiate an EPG deal with IceTV who have said that they would be prepared to supply an Australian EPG service to Freeview.

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