As terrestrial digital television begins airing across Europe, a war over the Digital Video Broadcast-Terrestrial (DVB-T) standard has already broken out between industry heavyweight patent holders and set-top box makers.
Europe?s set-top box vendors are furious at paying what they call sky-high royalties, for 12 patents from electronics and telecomms giants Philips, Matsushita, CCETT and JVC. The patents are said to be essential to framing structure, channel coding and modulation.
The companies have agreed to offer a joint licensing programme on the DVB-T patents, with Philips taking responsibility for collecting the royalties. If the companies' proposal is accepted it will undoubtedly cause problems worldwide for set-top box manufacturers, as well as TV makers integrating terrestrial DTV decoders into sets, and PC companies looking to roll out DTV based multimedia systems built around the DVB-T standard, according to analysts.
The percentage royalty charged will probably end up going onto the products? price tags. Patent royalties being proposed are around $3.50 per set-top box, according to industry sources.
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