iSurfTV 'maps' out IPG plans
Hoping to avoid the long reach of Gemstar-TV Guide's lawyers, iSurfTV said it has received a patent that covers and protects the company's "cornerstone" interactive program guide technology.
That patent, No. 6,342,884, covers iSurfTV's use of texture mapping to display text or images on an IPG.
While other IPGs use computer-generated graphics, iSurfTV's texture mapping technique creates 3-D characters or visual impressions of information, says company Chief Technology Officer Yakov Kamen. In a digital cable environment, the company's IPG would also enable customers to select their own font types and sizes, he adds. iSurfTV claims the method frees up CPU resources, lowers the time needed to perform image manipulation and opens the door for a variety of new "special effects."
The company also believes the technology does not infringe on existing IPG patents, which have formed a litigious maelstrom involving companies like Gemstar, Scientific-Atlanta Inc. and Pioneer Electronics, which all make and market their own IPGs.
Though iSurfTV's objective is to deliver strong IPG products, it could pursue legal action against competitors if the company believes its patents are being infringed.
When asked whether iSurfTV has filed suit against any other IPG players, company President and CEO Gene Feroglia said, "Not yet."
He added that licensing iSurfTV's technology is not beyond the realm of possibility, but wasn't at liberty to discuss any specific details.
Despite securing some key patents, iSurfTV has yet to turn that momentum into deployments with cable operators. The company, which does have a hunting license with the National Cable Television Cooperative, could announce some deals during the first half of the year, Feroglia said.