back to article Broadcom sues Netflix for its success: You’re stopping us making a fortune from set-top boxes, moans chip designer

Broadcom is suing Netflix for being so successful that people have cut their cable subscriptions and ditched the set-top boxes that make the chip designer a huge profit. In a lawsuit [PDF] filed late last week in California, the San Jose-based Broadcom – which designs and sells chipsets used in millions of set-top boxes – …

  1. Blackjack Silver badge

    Why not sue Youtube too?

    All those free videos online, it must be a crime!

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: Why not sue Youtube too?

      Because Alphabet/Google has the financial & legal resources to stick Broadcom into a bucket & fling the stupid into the sun?

      Or am I just fantasizing about punishing the incredibly stupid again?

      *Deep sigh*

      Stupidity should hurt. Intentional Fuckwittery should be lethal.

      1. ST Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Why not sue Youtube too?

        > Or am I just fantasizing about punishing the incredibly stupid again?

        Yes, you are. Stupid is encouraged and admired.

        Where have you been for the past 20 years?

        1. Hyper72

          Re: Why not sue Youtube too?

          > Where have you been for the past 20 years?

          Past 2000 years... Probably more.

      2. Sanctimonious Prick

        Re: Why not sue Youtube too?

        @Shadow Systems "Fuckwittery"

        You been watching those AustrALIEN YT vidoes?

        :D

      3. CountCadaver Bronze badge

        Re: Why not sue Youtube too?

        and failing that the financial resources to simply mount a hostile takeover of Broadcom.....

        1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Re: Why not sue Youtube too?

          Broadcom would have to have something Google wants for that to happen

          1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

            Re: Why not sue Youtube too?

            the something being cheaper than paying lawyers to litigate things out for 10+years and the guarantee of no further lawsuits from Btoadcom

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Why not sue Youtube too?

              "the something being cheaper than paying lawyers to litigate things out for 10+years and the guarantee of no further lawsuits from Btoadcom"

              Frankly I'm surprised that Google didn't look at this strategy with Hollywood. They could have purchased all the US Studios with money from down the back of the sofa (and still could)

    2. matjaggard

      Re: Why not sue Youtube too?

      Because Google has enough patents that Broadcom might or might not have infringed to fight back. Netflix as a newer company has fewer patents.

    3. JCitizen Bronze badge
      FAIL

      Re: Why not sue Youtube too?

      For sure! What a load of bollocks! They might as well sue the cable companies too, because my cable went to streaming only, so now if you want "cable" TV, you just need an internet connection and either a PC, Smart TV, or one of those Fire TV stick type of wireless devices. I watch my cable on an "app" on my PC browser now. I like it MUCH better. No more renting DVRs or other boxes from the cable company.

  2. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Using this logic.

    Horse breeder should sue Ford. Transatlantic passenger liner companies line should sue Boeing.

    It'll be laughed out of court if it ever gets there.

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: Using this logic.

      And all the ThreeLetterAgencies should sue Google for hoovering up all our personal data better than they themselves can...

      Oh wait. Nevermind. Forget I said th-

      *Impact as I get tackled by a JackBootedThug in SWAT armor & balaklava as they rappell in off a black helicoptor hovering outside my window*

      (Obvious different person typing) Nothing to see here. Please move along.

      *No Carrier*

    2. RantyDave

      Re: Using this logic.

      Imagine the stink the sheet music industry kicked up when recorded music was invented.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Using this logic.

        To be fair the central point here is patents. Either Broadcom has got patents that Neflix is infringing or not.

        I don't think aircraft manufacturers are infringing horse cart makers patents.....

        As to whether the patent system is horribly broken..... well for me it's pretty obvious that it is!

        1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

          Re: Using this logic.

          Netflix likely uses equipment that contains Broadcom intellectual property, but that should already have been bought and paid for. If not, sue the equipment manufacturers not Netflix.

          Horse cart makers to aircraft manufacturers: "Rotating shaft that delivers motive force to transportation vehicle". Pay up!

          1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

            Re: Using this logic.

            "Rotating shaft that delivers motive force to transportation vehicle"

            I guess that would not apply to horse drawn carts, but early car manufactures could have tried it.

        2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

          Re: Using this logic.

          "Either Broadcom has got patents that Neflix is infringing or not."

          Not been around here for long, have you?

      2. Ian 55

        Re: Using this logic.

        See how successful they were when, over a century later, you still have to pay a royalty to the publisher of said sheet music when you play recorded music in public.

      3. bigmacbear

        Re: Using this logic.

        Fun fact: The "mechanical license" required to release a music recording was originally devised for the manufacturers of player-piano rolls to compensate composers.

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Using this logic.

        "Imagine the stink the sheet music industry kicked up when recorded music was invented."

        Actually they did. Big time. That's why there are performance and author royalties to this day.

    3. John Sturdy
      WTF?

      Re: Using this logic.

      I'm amused by the idea of a chip company being Luddites. There's progress for you.

  3. steviebuk Silver badge

    Hopefully...

    ...it gets thrown out. Fucking idiots. As bad as Apple. Anyone starts making money, they sue "Only we're allowed to make money!"

    1. Charlie van Becelaere
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Hopefully...

      " As bad as Apple. Anyone starts making money, they sue "Only we're allowed to make money!" "

      But you've forgotten that Apple have filed a patent on making money. Of course there may be prior art ....

      (Paris, because she has prior art as well.)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do Broadcom actually have any proof that Netflix are using their IP?

    or is this unnecessary for litigation in the US?

    I thought broadcom had been sold off, perhaps this has some connection with why the time is finally right to go to court?

    1. John Sager

      Re: Do Broadcom actually have any proof that Netflix are using their IP?

      It does seem strange that they lead off with "they're taking our business!", rather than specifics of alleged patent violations.

      1. nematoad Silver badge

        Re: Do Broadcom actually have any proof that Netflix are using their IP?

        I agree.

        Lawyers actually telling the truth in a lawsuit. Wonders will never cease.

        1. Blank Reg

          Re: Do Broadcom actually have any proof that Netflix are using their IP?

          Even trump has occassionaly told the truth in the past few days. That's a sure sign that the end times are here.

          1. StudeJeff

            Re: Do Broadcom actually have any proof that Netflix are using their IP?

            Or even more shocking, Chucky Schumer had some suggestions that actually made sense!

    2. Stephen Hurd

      Re: Do Broadcom actually have any proof that Netflix are using their IP?

      Broadcom Coproration was sold to Avago who changed their name to Broadcom Ltd. and changed the name of Broadcom Corp. to Broadcom Inc.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Do Broadcom actually have any proof that Netflix are using their IP?

        The original name had a certain ring to it.

        1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

          Re: Do Broadcom actually have any proof that Netflix are using their IP?

          Maybe another change is due: Broad-con

    3. Camilla Smythe
      Boffin

      Re: Do Broadcom actually have any proof that Netflix are using their IP?

      Don't they just ping them and see if the numbers match?

  5. heyrick Silver badge

    Times change, people move on

    All that innovation and research yet they somehow managed to miss being Netflix due to clinging to an outdated model based around set top boxes.

    Instead it took somebody else without all that emotional baggage to work out how to do "broadcasting" [*] in a way that people wanted to use.

    * - if that word even has relevance to a service that lets one stream what they want as and when, it's less "broadcasting" and more "youcasting".

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Times change, people move on

      > it's less "broadcasting" and more "youcasting".

      The term "narrowcasting" was devised for doing this - even before Clifford Stoll and Nicolas Negroponte were using it in their 1990s books. ("Silicon Snake Oil" and "Being Digital" respectively)

  6. Spasticus Autisticus
    Mushroom

    Hopefully Netflix will use Private Eye's response ....

    "We refer you to the reply given in the case of Arkell v. Pressdram."

    1. Snake Silver badge

      Re: Hopefully Netflix will use Private Eye's response ....

      Thank you for introducing this undereducated American to yet another wonderful British euphemism.

      It was worth every single moment it took to discover its deeper meaning :)

  7. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    I hope the judge gets pissed at Broadcom...

    "You brought this bullshit case to me & expect to prevail? You've obviously lost your fucking mind. I brand you & your legal team to be Vexacious Litigants & thus are no longer allowed to file any suit in any court ever again. Do it & we'll jail your worthless asses for contempt of court & practicing law without a license. Bailiff, take these twits out back & make them scrub clean my car with their tongues. I want it spotless. All of it. Engine, undercarriage, boot, bonnet, & especially the ashtray. NEXT! *Gavel bang*"

    *Deep sigh*

    Damn my fantasies about punishing the stupid...

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: I hope the judge gets pissed at Broadcom...

      It's the law. If the judge thinks that (and wants his car cleaned), it'll take twenty pages.

    2. DCFusor Silver badge

      Re: I hope the judge gets pissed at Broadcom...

      Think how much that'd be worth on pay per view!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hopefully the Coronavirus will do its work on these idiot lawyers.

    ^ cough... cough... bump.

    1. OssianScotland Silver badge

      Re: Hopefully the Coronavirus will do its work on these idiot lawyers.

      No, it won't touch them as a matter of professional courtesy

  9. grizewald
    Facepalm

    Truly disgusting behaviour

    Sue another company because they innovated and developed a new market, cutting into your dinosaur tech bottom line? How low can they sink?

    I really hope that Broadcom's bad faith use of what are more than likely bad patents ends up with them losing huge amounts of money, losing their reputation and ultimately ceasing to exist as a company.

    A pathetic law suit from an increasing pathetic company.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: Truly disgusting behaviour

      Broadcom could be the SCO of the 2020s

  10. whoseyourdaddy

    This wouldn't have anything to do with patents for H.264 they successfully stole from Qualcomm?

    Now, where's my popcorn?

  11. Joe Gurman

    "Mr. Ford has caused, and continues to cause, substantial and irreparable harm to the Buggy Whip Entities [that] sell leather equine encouragers used in the carriages that enable traditional transportation services."

    The filing should have been dated April 1.

    1. StudeJeff

      Maybe about a hundred years ago Studebaker, the worlds largest manufacturer of wheeled vehicles, should have sued Ford.

      Instead Studebaker transitioned to making electric and then gasoline powered vehicles, which they did for the next half century.

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        And if Studebaker/Packard had joined in on the American Motors conglomerate, AMC might even still be around (although seeing how S/P's management was in the latter days of their auto manufacturing, maybe not).

    2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

      "Mr. Ford has caused, and continues to cause, substantial and irreparable harm to the Buggy Whip Entities [that] sell leather equine encouragers used in the carriages that enable traditional transportation services."

      But at least the Buggy Whip manufacturers figured out how to migrate to the S&M business.

      1. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge
        Gimp

        Does it applies to parliamentary whips also?

  12. IGnatius T Foobar ! Bronze badge
    WTF?

    If this were a thing...

    Everyone who ever operated a dial-up BBS should sue Facebook.

    1. Sanctimonious Prick

      Re: If this were a thing...

      No. No. BBS operators (if there are still any around) should sue the Internet. Damnit... I was gonna be a SysOp one day, or so I thought... then the Internet came along.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: If this were a thing...

        The internet and BBS's were developed roughly in parallel.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: If this were a thing...

          "The internet and BBS's were developed roughly in parallel."

          Yup and then the telcos noticed people making international voip calls for pennies per minute when they were charging dollars per minute for exactly the same thing.

          Within a year _EVERY_ major telco was rolling out its own ISP and making plans to shut down the competition (who up to that point were their bestest buddy customers because they bought so much bandwidth and so many phone lines)

          A funny thing about anticompetitive behaviour is that once you've destroyed the competition and paid your fine, it doesn't resurrect the hundreds of companies you're quite deliberately driven into bankruptcy (it's very hard to compete with a telco sales rep going to your customers telling them 'you spent this much in line charges dialling into XYZ mom and pop ISP last month. Switch to us and we'll waive the per minute call charges!' - having access to call pattern data they shouldn't be using for that sales pitch, and then offering unlawful sales conditions (free calls to the telco ISP, 4c/min if you dial anyone else) as the bait.)

          A lesson learned early on from Firestone Tire company, Standard Oil, General Motors and National Bus Lines....

  13. JohnFen Silver badge

    Those set-top boxes

    Those set-top boxes are one of the three primary reasons why I cancelled my cable subscription. But I did that from before Netflix had a streaming service.

    1. StudeJeff

      Re: Those set-top boxes

      Yep. Those things are expensive and take FOREVER to boot up. I built a PC just to watch TV, it boots in less than a minute, does things no set top box can, and costs me zero every month.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Broadcom Set Top Boxes

    With blackjack and hookers.. (But mostly with hookers.)

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Broadcom Set Top Boxes

      The blackjack is possibly the more lucrative

      At least until a gambling clamp-down.

  15. Criminny Rickets
    Devil

    Sue Happy

    Does this mean I can sue Netflix. Amazon, and the other streaming services for curtailing my ability to resell all my old VHS tapes? It doesn't matter that I only have 5 tapes, each of those companies owe me millions of dollars each for preventing me from selling my tapes.

  16. Sanctimonious Prick
    WTF?

    Goodbye Broadcom

    Suck shit, Broadcom. You sat there and did nothing while everyone else innovated.

    Dumb f*cks!

    Going by Broadcom's reasoning, Big Oil should sue Tesla (for whatever reason they can think of).

    1. zuckzuckgo Bronze badge

      Re: Goodbye Broadcom

      More likely:

      - Broadcom and Netflix negotiate a (non-monetary) agreement giving Netflix an unlimited use licence.

      - Broadcom uses Netflix precedent to justify prolonged law suits against all streaming newcomers.

      Win-Win ... Fail (for the rest of us)

  17. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Are these patents standards related? If so,shouldn't they be subject to FRAND licensing?

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      FRAND

      The patents are now linked from the article. They don't look standards related.

      They look like the usual video-on-demand and video encoding fare. Check 'em out and let us know.

      C.

      1. STOP_FORTH Silver badge

        Re: FRAND

        387 and 663 cover error correction. There may be some merit in these, but a few companies tried patenting Turbo codes for broadcasting some years ago and got their fingers burnt. (That clever bloke from Cambridge who wrote the alternative energy report showed that all Turbo codes were a subset of an existing error correcting scheme.)

        283 seems to be a way of efficiently transmitting video encoding data. This may actually be novel.

        The rest look rather over-broad, basically how do you get high bandwidth, time-critical stuff over a network. (DVD bitstreams? What?)

        Look like typical US patents to me. Not sure this would fly in Europe. DVB standards are all FRAND based. Compression standards are a bit more confusing, because of the sheer number of researchers, overlapping ideas and not everybody agrees to licence stuff as FRAND.

        Edit David MacKay was the prof. He showed that LDPC codes (invented/discovered by Gallager in 1960) were a superset of all Turbo codes. This wiped out a promising business model/technical blackmail scam overnight.

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          Re: FRAND

          We all know that the best compression is middle out.

  18. druck Silver badge

    Raspberry lining

    This lawsuit may be ridiculous, but the huge profits Broadcom made from US cable boxes enabled them to spare a few pennies to make the Raspberry Pi possible.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Raspberry lining

      My brother used to work for a company who's product was based on what was basically a set top box, he pointed out to the management that they could do everything the box did plus a whole lot more for about a 10th the price if they just switched over to using the Pi as the basis of the product, but they weren't interested at all.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Raspberry lining

      @"spare a few pennies to make the Raspberry Pi possible."

      There were many ARM based SOC systems before the PI, where the PI differed was in that it had the full OS accessible for user control/programming rather than just the bare minimum required for system function.

      The Pi got in early selling older Broadcom SOCs but it is my opinion that for Broadcom it was the sales of old stock rather than philanthropy that motivated them. One of their employees had the idea of shifting old stock via a charity foundation so they could avoid paying as much tax. It was very successful when you consider that the alternative was to just throw the chips away.

      The employee got to run it and I am sure got something in the way of a kick back for the idea and unexpected sales. So yes, Broadcom recognising their employee's efforts in shift old stock on their behalf was nice however, thinking back to the community attempts to reuse rather than throw away old BT Home Hubs based upon Broadcom chips the company did not exactly shine out as being on the consumer or the environment's side. Not to mention their response to requests for the source from their use of OSS components.

      In conclusion IMHO Broadcom like every other company is in it for the money, AVAGO ofc are going to do to what every other US company does with IP i.e. sue anyone they can.

      1. . 3

        Re: Raspberry lining

        BT Home Hubs use Lantiq chipsets. Or is that just another Broadcom tentacle?

  19. renosablast

    So Broadcom doesn't like that someone is using legally purchased hardware that utilizes Broadcom chips

    to create competition against Broadcom's historic monopoly. I foresee Broadcom will be paying Netflix's

    legal fees to get this thrown out like the garbage that it is.

  20. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    Those patents seem a bit, wait for it,... "Broad",..

    ... and hardly novel. They also seem to be largely focussed on the transmission of data, which would be the network level, not the application level Netflix operate at. So this really does look like a "rotating shaft" (©zuckzuckgo ; -) )

  21. d1psti1k

    I would gladly grant their alleged infringements...

    If and only if they fix every single one of their broken with Kr00k WiFi chip sets.

    And when I mean fix, I mean fix the IP, find the old masks, produce the fixed silicon, package it up, test it, and then solder it in place in my broken components, at their expense.

  22. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge

    Lawsuits

    Whatever happened to a "Gentlemans Agreement" ?

    Netflix: a Broadcom company. Problem solved!

    For that matter, Apple and Samsung could bury the hatchet, agree to share fairly and all would be well.

    It seems awfully short sighted to sue your competitor for "stealing" when they are indirectly responsible

    for the success of your product(s).

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Lawsuits

      "Netflix: a Broadcom company. Problem solved!"

      As has been mentioned, Broadcom got hoovered up by Avago, which was Agilent, which was part of HP's shipmaking division and then the merged outfit changed its name to Broadcom. (SCO bought out then renamed to SCO, etc)

      IIRC there was a large amount of VC investment in Avago/Agilent (yup - Silver Lake) - and this always changes the direction of a company towards "Profit as much as possible in as short a period of time as possible and bugger the long-term consequences"

      Remember Avago/Agilent went on quite the purchase spree with that VC money, to the point where it started getting slapped down in the USA on monopoly abuse + national security grounds - and is currently under investigation by the EU for anticompetitive behaviour - https://www.wsj.com/articles/broadcom-ordered-by-eu-to-halt-allegedly-anticompetitive-contract-practices-11571221103

      That said, it looks like Netflix has enough cash to buy out Broadcom in a hostile takeover if it wanted to.

  23. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge
    Trollface

    What about rounded corners

    I am pretty sure that most top-boxes have rounded corners...

  24. sean.fr

    The idea of channels/packages is the problem

    The principle of packages of content is bad. Just let me pick the content episode by episode, and let me purchase it from anywhere in the world. Like music.

    Netflix do add value, because they do smart caching of popular content. If everyone is watching the new James Bond, it makes sense to avoid a point to point flow from MGM to each home.

    Lets get back to the original Netflix rent a DVD model. Item by Item. No box. No recurring charges.

    A clear separation of the deliver system from the product beling delivered.

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