Time Warner Cable will use middleware from OpenTV Corp. to ensure that its in-house digital navigator application runs on Motorola-made set-top boxes.

Under the multi-year licensing deal, the MSO will deploy OpenTV's Core 2.0 software and other "related" interactive television (iTV) services in Time Warner divisions that employ Motorola digital set-tops and headends.

Although the majority of Time Warner's systems use digital systems from Scientific Atlanta (the big exception is TWC's Houston system), the percentage of those based on Motorola gear will increase significantly if and when Time Warner Cable acquires several systems from Adelphia Communications.

OpenTV noted that it expects to write additional apps for Time Warner that run on the Core system as well as OCAP. The deployment marks OpenTV's first with a major U.S. cable operator. Time Warner Cable expects to begin deploying OpenTV's software in late 2006 in its Motorola markets.

Solidifying OpenTV's growing role with U.S. cable, the set-top software company also agreed to participate in the OpenCable initiative, an important move that should all but erase any potential patent squabbles related to cable-fed interactive television (iTV) services and OCAP, which incorporates big chunks of the Multimedia Home Platform (MHP) and uses a royalty-bearing model.

In addition to participating in the standards development process and how those standards will work, participation also ensures that if OpenTV has any patents that apply to OCAP that they'll be licensed on fair and reasonable terms, explained OpenTV Chairman & CEO Jim Chiddix.

"We were in the [middleware] business very early. We have some very basic patents," Chiddix said. Overall, OpenTV has more than 450 patents linked to iTV software.