Trespass Tuesdays: Comcast In The Crosshairs


 by: Patrick Anderson | January 16, 2018

Veveo Inc. v Comcast

According to a federal complaint filed on January 10, 2018 in Massachusetts, Comcast’s interactive program guide technology features search technology stolen under the false pretenses of a promised software development and license arrangement. Veveo alleges that Comcast strung the software firm along spanning a 3 year period, only to pull the rug out at the last minute. “Comcast had secretly tasked an internal team to create the same functionality—using the Veveo product to test its own,” according to the filing.

Following Comcast’s theft of Veveo’s intellectual property, the software company was acquired by licensing specialist Rovi Corporation. But for brazen acts of thievery, small software companies like Veveo might be able to stand on their own. However, the difficulty, risk, and expense associated with enforcing intellectual property rights drives patent owners to specialists and middlemen who develop the expertise necessary to weather such fights. Further, without their patent portfolio, large incumbents could trample on small software startups with impunity by gaining valuable knowledge and insight all while promising bigger and better deals down the road with no actual intention in the long run. Thus, protecting property rights, in turn, protects inventors and small businesses alike from the oppressive acts of incumbents, fostering growth and continued innovation.

Every Tuesday, IP Wire will highlight significant cases of intellectual trespass by some of the world’s the largest and most powerful companies. These illegal acts hamper commercialization efforts, as research and educational institutions simply lack the resources to compete with massive incumbents. In the case of public universities, public funds create technology and property rights, only to be stolen by massive incumbent organizations. In other cases, property rights stem from research by publicly subsidized, not-for-profit organizations. Companies who illegally use this technology without compensation are, in effect, stealing from the public, while entities that dare assert their rights are vilified in the media. IP Wire’s mission, and we choose to accept, is to get out in front of these stories and expose these actions for what they are: harmful and illegal.

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