Is Sony facing an uphill struggle with Blu-ray?

Blu-ray, Columns & Opinion

andy-merrett.jpgAndy Merrett writes…

Yes, it’s another instalment of the HD DVD versus Blu-ray debate / war, but this time things are a little different.

Instead of a war of words between various equipment manufacturers and official associations on both sides, this is to do with lawsuits.

We’ve spent a lot of time reporting on lawsuits – a lot of them come from Apple – but Sony has been hit with two in a single week. They both affect Blu-ray.

Now, Sony didn’t solely develop the Blu-ray standard, but they appear to be the ones being hit with legal action.

Last Friday we reported that California-based Target Technology Company is to sue Sony Computer Entertainment America, Sony Pictures, and Sony DADC, claiming that they are manufacturing Blu-ray optical discs that infringe on a patent it owns for silver-based alloys used as reflective layer materials on optical discs.

It’s hard to tell if that only affects some or all of the discs Sony manufacture, or is something inherent in the way Blu-ray discs have to be manufactured. If that’s the case, it will have knock-on effects for all studios and manufacturers backing Blu-ray.

A week later, Canadian company Certicom Corp alleges that Sony is using its patented digital content protection technology in a variety of its products including its DVD players, PS3, and Vaio PCs. In addition, other patented Certicom digital transmission technology is being used unlicensed in devices such as HD TVs and audio equipment.

This could have effects far beyond both Sony and Blu-ray, including HD DVDs and standard DVDs, but at the moment, it’s just Sony taking the rap.

Remember the laptop battery fiasco of Autumn 2006? That cost Sony a lot both financially and in terms of reputation.

Is it possible that these lawsuits, if successful, could do the same for the Blu-ray high definition format?

I think there’s been enough momentum gained that this won’t destroy the technology, but it could prove another very costly exercise for Sony. In addition, though the factors may have no logical link whatsoever, it could provide more fuel for those who believe Sony can’t invent a standard storage format (Betamax, UMD, MiniDisc)

They say that many things always come in threes. Does that apply to lawsuits, and if so, where’s the next one coming from?

Andy Merrett
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  • So true, I remember back in the 1990’s every dotcom company was sueing each other. If “target” loses, Sony will counter sue for legal fees and reprehand Target for a whole bunch of other stuff. Target Inc. isn’t that small, but if they lose this lawsuit , I feel a sharp drop in their shares.

    As far as the Security infringement,DNAS, I am sure Sony will give them acouple bucks to shut up or invent thier own ways of some thing like DNAS.

  • I’ve read this news couple of days ago, and somone actually googling and post the patent that Sony file back in 1991, I believe (could be mistaken, but confirm that sometime in the 1990s). The detail state clearly that Sony actually invented a metal coating for its own reflective obtical discs. This case would undermind Target Technology Company effort greatly, if proven.

    I think it is another case where a small low profile company trying to get a quick buck without considering the consequences.

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