Add Midcontinent Communications to the growing ranks of cable operators who are being sued by VTran Media Technologies over patents related to VOD.

Marshall, Texas-based VTran filed a federal lawsuit in Fargo that said Midcontinent has infringed upon two of its patents that relate to VOD. VTran, which has filed similar lawsuits against Comcast, Cox, Cebridge, Bright House, Armstrong, Atlantic Broadband and  Mid-Hudson Cablevision, is seeking unspecified damages and a permanent injunction against Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Midcontinent.

“I’m not sure I can shed much light on their claim,” said Tom Simmons, Midcontinent’s senior vice president of public policy. “The details are in the hands of our attorneys who are preparing a response.  I understand that VTran claims patents for a ‘Television Broadcast System for Selective Transmission of Viewer-Chosen Program at Viewer Requested Times.' I do not know what their patents actually do. 

“While Midcontinent simply does not infringe on patents owned by others, we are taking these claims seriously and will respond accordingly. In the meantime, we will continue to operate in the best interests of our customers, our employees and support our vendors who assist us in providing the services our customers have come to value and appreciate.”

Midcontinent provides triple play services to its 220,000 customers primarily in South Dakota and North Dakota, with smaller footprints in parts of Minnesota and Nebraska.

Two years ago Midcontinent started deploying VOD services in order to better compete against some smaller telcos in its service areas. Midcontinent, which is jointly owned by Midcontinent Media and Comcast, completed its last VOD launch in April of last year.

More Broadband Direct:

• VTran Media sues Midcontinent Communications over VOD patents 

• NAB, ACA quarrel over dual must-carry 

• Hong Kong broadcaster chooses Thomson for digital terrestrial deployment 

• Nortel makes a play for IPTV 

• Broadband Briefs for 3/7/08