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ACTV Files Suit Against Disney

On Wednesday, ACTV (www.actv.com) announced it had filed a patent infringement lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company in a New York federal court. According to a statement released by ACTV, the suit alleges that its Enhanced TV (ETV) system infringes upon ACTV's intellectual property.

"The action we have taken today is a step we have taken reluctantly," said Bill Samuels, CEO of ACTV in a conference call. "We will vigorously enforce our intellectual property assets."

When reached for comment, Disney sent a prepared statement denying the allegations: "We unconditionally deny that our Enhanced TV technology infringes upon anyone's patents. Our in-house technical staff developed our Enhanced TV system independently."

Specifically, ACTV says that Disney's ABC and ESPN are infringing on two of its patents when it broadcasts Monday Night Football, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Sunday Night Football. ACTV, among other relief, is seeking a permanent injunction and unspecified monetary damages.

Samuels indicated that ACTV had been in "cordial but ineffective" discussions with Disney recently. He also said that there are other companies infringing on ACTV's patents. "Yes, there are other infringers, and yes, there will probably be more than one lawsuit," said Samuels. However, he said the company won't bring up a lawsuit on everyone, just the ones that are bringing in "significant revenues".

"Baker Botts, our law firm, is not cheap," quipped Samuels.

ACTV is a developer of broadcast technology and says it has 21 issued and pending patents that broadly cover the methodologies for enhancing broadcasts with Internet functions. The company's products and services are called HyperTV and Bottle Rocket.

Samuels said that ACTV's current customers include Turner Network (with its wrestling programming) and Viacom's MTV.

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