Yesterday CNET’s News.com reported that the company which holds the patent covering V-chip television technology has taken an uncommon step in a patent infringement suit - filing the suit against a retailer rather than a manufacturer. The alleged infringing devices are Prima brand televisions.
The V-chip technology allows parents to block violent or other objectionable programming from their children’s television and, according to the article, is a required technology for all new TV’s under Canadian and U.S. law.
The relevant Canadian patent is CA 2,179,474 - “Method and Apparatus for Selectively Blocking Video Signals” and was invented by Canadian Timothy D. Collings, who was then a professor of engineering at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia.
Tri-Vision International Ltd., owner of the patent, apparently has filed a Statement of Claim in the Federal Court of Canada naming Best Buy Co. Inc., Best Buy Canada Ltd. and The Brick Warehouse Corp. as defendants in the lawsuit (see also earlier coverage by Yahoo Canada News). Best Buy also operates under the Future Shop brand.
Although somewhat unusual, this law suit is a great example of how in Canada anyone in the supply chain (including the end consumer) could be liable for patent infringement.