Verance and Digimarc Exchange Law Suits

Verance, the company responsible for the digital watermarking technology used by the recording industry to protect DVD-Audio content, has filed a suit against Digimarc, a member of the Video Watermarking group.

On November 2nd, the VWM group submitted their digital watermarking technology to the DVD Copy Control Association, the body responsible for selecting a copy protection standard for use with the DVD-Video and DVD-Audio formats.

According to Verance, Digimarc have infringed their US patents 5,901,178, 5,719,937, and 5,963,909 through Digimarc’s participation in the DVD CCA submission. Verance has also informed the DVD CCA that it will not license its patents to Digimarc or any affiliated company taking part in the VWM submission.

The two companies are already involved in litigation; Digimarc has filed three patent infringement suits against Verance related to its digital watermarking technology. These claims are denied by Verance who in turn have accused Digimarc of violation of federal and state antitrust laws, unfair competition laws, fraud, and even breach of contract.

Bob Cerasoli, president and CEO of Verance said “…we cannot permit this blatant misappropriation of our intellectual property and will not license any party to use Digimarc’s proposed system so long as their litigation against us continues. Verance has an established track record of technology and market leadership, having created the first and only industry standard digital watermark for copyright management. Digimarc’s attempt to obtain market power through unfounded and repetitive litigation is disturbing on its own. That they should compound these bullying tactics with a blatant effort to offer Verance’s innovations under their own name is unconscionable.

In any event, the actions of both Verance and Digimarc are doing little to bolster industry confidence; a digital interface for DVD-Audio has already been adversely affected by record label paranoia, and this situation is likely to complicate things yet further.