Toshiba is getting ready for a showdown with companies they claim infringe on its DVD-related patents. Not surprisingly, this lawsuit was filed in the United States against 17 companies based in the US, China, and Hong Kong. Perhaps Toshiba felt less likely to see substantial monies by suing in China?
According to the lawsuit, these 17 companies are infringing on DVD patents held by Toshiba. Of course, these aren't fly by night operations that are purportedly misusing Toshiba patented technologies. In fact, these include Memorex, Daewoo, and jWin among others.
What does this mean for you? If Toshiba wins their case, it's likely that you'll have a difficult time finding that low-end DVD player for an outrageously low price – so low, in fact, that you wonder if it's hot.
Well, according to Toshiba, it IS hot! Toshiba maintains that they hold patents for most of the basic DVD format functions. Smart guys! This means that if you make a DVD player, you need to pay a licensing fee in order to build it and get it out to market. If you don't, you may be sued. Just ask Toshiba.
At the end of the day, a patent is a patent; it's hard to believe that any of these companies – some of whom have been around for quite some time – wouldn't know that they are infringing upon patented material and that they'd be expected to pay a royalty to use the technology. While we've not yet heard their defense, we have a hard time believing that a judge will accept the "I didn't know" defense.