glenn-carstens-peters-EOQhsfFBhRk-unsplash (1)Great advances in technological innovation can make us marvel at where we are as a society and what's possible, but it's to the losers of the tech race to remind us that advances don't necessarily bring everyone along. Just as the horse and buggy was left in the dust by the advent of the automobile (almost quite literally), we now see that same obsolescence now, only more frequently and on an accelerated timeline. A quick look around the house probably reveals some device that was once a huge leap forward and now is on its way out, if not entirely outmoded already.

Into that fray we can place Broadcom, the maker of semiconductor chips for cable set-top boxes, who has sued Netflix for infringing upon its patent and, by doing so, helping to hasten its decline. The suit claims that Netflix violated patents held by Broadcom related to data transmission and video playback, and that the misuse of those patents enabled the growth of the streaming service, which in turn, led to the inexorable shrinking of cable TV subscribers and thus cable set-box sales that would require Broadcom's semiconductor chips.

Broadcom asserts that it informed Netflix of the infringement in late 2019, and that the service declined to negotiate licensing of said patents. Thus, Broadcom is pressing ahead with a lawsuit seeking to recoup what it claims to have lost to both theft and, arguably, the inexorable march of time and progress.

This isn't the first legal case Broadcom has been involved with recently. The company lost a bid to claim infringment against smart TV manufacturers Vizio and Sigma Designs when the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that the companies did not infringe upon Broadcom's patents. Broadcom also lost a patent case pressed against them when a jury ruled that they infringed upon a patent owned by Caltech and ordered them to pay $270 million in damages. So, not the strongest record for the company in legal proceedings of late.

Regardless of the outcome of the case, or its merits as determined by the courts, it is sad nevertheless to see a company that has its primary source of income rather quickly taken away from them through circumstances outside of their control. Undoubtedly there once was a time when it seemed cable television could never be improved upon, just as now streaming seems the pinnacle of entertainment delivered into our homes. There may yet come a day when the Netflixs of the world look to the next big thing with an eye as to whether they built off what they themselves built upon.