Monday, May 23, 2005

Tri-Vision Electronics sues Best Buy

Harkening back to the days of Henry Ford, when ALAM would directly sue buyers of Ford's cars, Tri-Vision Electronics (holder of certain patent rights in the V-Chip) has sued Best Buy Canada, for selling products of Xiamen Overseas Chinese Electronic Company in Fujian Province in southeast China, which operates under several brand names including Xoceco and Prima Electronics.

From the New York Times:

The V-chip, or ViewControl, as it was originally known, allows parents to program televisions to block violent or other objectionable programming from their children based on either motion picture ratings or United States parental television guidelines that are transmitted along with most shows.

The United States and Canada require the technology to be included in all new television sets.

The process was invented in 1991 by Timothy D. Collings, who was then a professor of engineering at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia. Professor Collings subsequently received patents in North America and Europe.

He assigned those for commercial development to Tri-Vision, which makes set-top boxes and other devices for cable television companies.

That is when Tri-Vision took, as Mr. Eldon described it, "the next step" and demanded a license from Best Buy Canada, a wholly owned unit of the Best Buy Company, which operates stores under its own name as well as the Future Shop brand throughout most of Canada.

In its filing with the Federal Court of Canada, Tri-Vision asks for an order stopping Best Buy from selling Prima televisions, including those it now has in stock.

The company also seeks damages based on the profits generated by past sales of Primas.


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