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Tri-Vision Responds to CEA Petition on DTV V-Chip Implementation

In RF Report for October 19, 2004 I reported that Canadian company Tri-Vision expected a "windfall" from DTV set manufacturers, saying, "We are the only company that possesses a patent for technology that fits into the new (FCC) standard." The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) responded to this comment from Tri-Vision by filing a Petition for Clarification and/or Reconsideration of the new rule in the FCC's Second Periodic Review Report and Order regarding the functioning of the V-chip in DTV receivers. CEA asked the FCC to "examine the intellectual property issues related to the implementation of this new requirement."

CEA proposed the standard it adopted, CEA-766A, noting "the television community already has begun using it on a voluntary basis..." In the FCC Report and Order, CEA notes the FCC drew upon ATSC's comments that "the PSIP Standard does provide the ability to extend or replace the content advisory system in the U.S. by assignment of a new, different rating region code. Receivers that are built compliant with CEA standards and recommended practices will support an additional new system with one or more independent categories, each with a series of levels definable by a new RRT."

CEA said, "Notwithstanding the fact that the parties most vocal about their concern over V-chip functionality in existing DTVs may have the most to gain financially by this proceeding, CEA believes that the modifications to Section 15.120 and the accompanying language in the R&O, as written, do not clearly accomplish the Commission's goals." CEA recommended a change to the rules that would change a sentence in Section 15.120(d)(2) to read, "Digital television receivers shall be able to respond to rating region 0x05, representing changes in the alternate U.S. content advisory rating system."

CEA's filing commented on the quote from Tri-Vision I mentioned earlier. "It appears that as a result of the rules change discussed above, Mr. Collings and Tri-Vision are expecting a financial windfall that television manufacturers, and ultimately U.S. consumers, would have to fund. CEA therefore requests that the Commission gather information from the relevant parties to ensure that the licensing terms that Tri-Vision offers comply with the Commission's long-standing precedent that its rules not sanction a monopoly or other competitive abuse through the patent process."

Tri-Vision issued a press release responding to the CEA petition. In it, Tri-Vision said that while it is a CEA member, it was not consulted by the CEA prior to release of the Petition. It also said licenses to its V-chip technology would be issued on a non-exclusive basis and to all responsible parties at reasonable royalties. The press release stated, "Tri-Vision is pleased that the Petition acknowledges the Company's IP and that the Petition does not affect the Company's ability to continue licensing digital receiver manufacturers."